J. Alexander McMahon, who led the American Hospital Association through a tumultuous period in which federal payment systems came under attack in the 1970s, died Oct. 30 at his home in North Carolina. He was 87.
Hell always be well-known, certainly in the AHA and the hospital world. Hes quite a legend in our field, said AHA President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Umbdenstock, who served as special assistant to McMahon in the late 1970s. He really put AHA on the map.
McMahon was the first person to hold the job of president of the AHA, serving in the role from 1972 to 1986, a period in which federal officials wanted to clamp down on spending in the rapidly growing Medicare and Medicaid programs. Umbdenstock said the AHA came into its own as an advocacy group in the 1970s in response to efforts under Presidents Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter to cut costs in the decade-old entitlement programs.
McMahon was inducted into the Health Care Hall of Fame in 1995.
Though McMahon cut an influential figure at the AHA in Chicago, friends say his heart was always in Durham, N.C., where he graduated and later taught at Duke University. McMahon was a professor and then chairman of the Department of Hospital Administration at Duke, and received the universitys highest honor, the University Medal, in 2002.
McMahon is survived by his wife, Moanie; his brother, William McMahon; and his four children. -- by Joe Carlson
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