In a time of unprecedented volatility and uncertainty, leaders throughout the healthcare industry are taking a stand, evidenced in the recent action by Kenneth Frazier, CEO of pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co.
Frazier resigned from a White House manufacturing council on Aug. 14 after President Donald Trump did not explicitly condemn white supremacists when speaking about a deadly clash between several hate groups and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va.
As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, Frazier felt a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism, he said in a statement.
"Our country's strength stems from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, races, sexual orientations and political beliefs," he said. "America's leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal."
CEOs are increasingly using their leadership positions to speak out when it comes to social issues and policy matters.
Looming threats to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and slash Medicaid funding coupled with an ever-consolidating industry and ongoing tweaks to new payment models have catalyzed leaders to sound off. Given how much hospitals and health systems have grown in recent years and their role as job epicenters and community assets, CEOs have a responsibility to relay how these changes will affect their organizations, executives and experts said.
Communication is key, said Dr. Toby Cosgrove, president and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic.
"I think the CEO is in a unique position in that they have the responsibility to communicate inside the organization what is going on in the outside world as well as a responsibility to communicate to the outside world what is going on inside the organization," he said.