With the news that Thomas Scully is expected to move from the private world of hospital advocacy to the public realm of HCFA administrator, speculation has begun to turn to his likely successor as president and chief executive officer of the Federation of American Hospitals. The association, which represents about 1,700 for-profit hospitals, has been the primary lobbyist for the nation's for-profits and a major player in recent campaigns to increase federal healthcare reimbursements.
The federation, as it awaits Senate confirmation of Scully's nomination, has named Laura Thevenot, 43, its executive vice president and chief operating officer, to the post of acting CEO, said Barry Schochet, chairman of the federation's board and vice chairman of Tenet Healthcare Corp., one of its largest members. The federation has also retained an outside executive search firm and plans to convene a search committee, culled from its board members, Schochet said.
A decision is unlikely to be made before the group's annual meeting begins in Washington April 1.
Although federation officials declined to name names, several potential succession candidates have emerged. Charles "Chip" Kahn, president of the Health Insurance Association of America and a former top Republican healthcare aide, could be among the top contenders, said several sources who asked not to be named. Kahn would not comment on the topic.
Another name that has surfaced is Lynn Hart, who had been the federation's top lobbyist before going to Tenet in May 1996 to lead its government affairs department. Other names that have been mentioned by industry observers are Mary Grealy, president of the Healthcare Leadership Council, a coalition of healthcare executives. She had been executive vice president of the federation and also chief Washington counsel for the American Hospital Association. Former HCFA Administrator Nancy-Ann Min DeParle and Gail Wilensky, chairwoman of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and senior fellow at Project Hope in Bethesda, Md., are other possible contenders.
"We're looking for somebody who obviously has the ability to manage an organization and represent our interests on the Hill," Schochet said.
In 1999, the latest year for which figures were available, the federation reported a net loss of $766,708 on total revenue of $6.7 million. The loss was partly attributed to intense lobbying efforts to reverse Medicare reimbursement cuts (Oct. 16, 2000, p. 16).
Scully is only the second person to head the federation. He has been there since 1995, when he replaced the organization's first chief executive, Michael Bromberg.