Other elected officials who made this year's Most Influential list are Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), No. 29; House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), No. 30; Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.), No. 33; Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), No. 63; and Gov. John Kitzhaber (D-Ore.), No. 80.
Chet Speed, the American Medical Group Association vice president for public policy, praised the job Wyden has been doing since taking over as Finance Committee chairman after the resignation of Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.). “I think Wyden is a very thorough health policy thinker, and he has a very good staff,” Speed said. “He's focusing on the right things.”
Healthcare stakeholders are closely watching the fate of ACA-authorized Medicaid expansion in the 24 states that haven't yet approved the expansion to adults with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level.
Kahn said all eyes are on McAuliffe in Virginia and Republican Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana to see whether Medicaid expansion will advance in more conservative states. McAuliffe campaigned hard on Medicaid expansion but so far has been blocked by Virginia's Republican lawmakers.
“A lot of people look to Virginia as a pivotal purple state,” Kahn said. “Gov. Pence is going back and forth with CMS and that could be a bellwether if he succeeds” with his proposed conservative-oriented expansion proposal stressing consumer financial responsibility.
Douglas Hawthorne, CEO of 17-hospital Texas Health Resources, placed No. 96 on the Most Influential list. It's the ninth time for the longtime leader of that system, who has announced he will retire at the end of the year. He said the fight for Medicaid expansion in Texas is not over, despite the strong opposition of Republican leaders in his state. “Healthcare organizations in the state have banded together with community leadership to say we need to advocate for expanded Medicaid at the earliest opportunity,” he said.
CHI's Lofton said he has been influenced by leaders such as Dr. Glenn Steele Jr., No. 48 on the list and longtime CEO of Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger Health System, who is retiring in 2015. “I think he's demonstrated that a healthcare system like Geisinger can be a model we all can follow by focusing on total coordination for the patient and on the value equation for those paying the bills,” he said.
Lofton, a past AHA board chair, also praised the CHA's Keehan and Richard Umbdenstock, CEO of the American Hospital Association, No. 26 on this year's list. He said Keehan and Umbdenstock showed brave leadership in supporting the ACA even when that support was far from unanimous in their organizations. “I was able to see up close and personal the fortitude and resolve those two people have,” he said. “They took the greater good into account.”
Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks