Tag Archives: health care leader

St. Joseph’s And Phoenix Children’s Announce A Strategic Alliance - AZ Business Magazine June 2010

St. Joseph’s And Phoenix Children’s Announce A Strategic Alliance

Two major forces in the Valley’s health care industry are joining together to ensure the future of quality pediatric care in Arizona. St Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center and Phoenix Children’s Hospital are in the process of negotiating a strategic alliance that will make Arizona a medical destination for young patients with complex and acute health care needs.

“Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in the country and it deserves to have a children’s hospital that is top tier in the country with the same breadth of programs, depth of resources and reputational scores for quality as children’s hospitals in other major markets,” says Robert Meyer, president and CEO of Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH).

Under the proposed alliance, St. Joseph’s will transfer a substantial portion of its pediatric service line to PCH. The collaboration will result in a full-service pediatric hospital, bringing together the best both hospitals have to offer. If an alliance is reached, much of the two hospitals’ pediatric medical staff, nurses and other staff will be united by mid-2011. At that time, the construction on PCH’s new 11-story hospital tower is expected to be complete, making Phoenix home to the second largest children’s hospital in the nation.

Under a current, non-binding memorandum of understanding, St. Joseph’s would continue to operate its neonatal intensive care unit and treat pediatric patients in its trauma unit, as well as patients age 15 and older. In addition, St. Joseph’s would be a minority member of Phoenix Children’s, with limited representation on PCH’s board of directors.

“When we brought our strengths to the table we became a tremendous force in the care of kids in this country,” says Linda Hunt, service area president of Catholic Healthcare West Arizona and president of St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center. “We have leaders in pediatric care, advocacy and research that we can bring together to make this incredible force and improve kids’ care in the Southwest.”

Along with creating a powerhouse pediatric hospital, the shifting of services will enable St. Joseph’s to fulfill its strategic plan to become a destination hospital for patients from across the nation and around the world. To that end, Hunt says St. Joseph’s is expanding specialty programs such as neurosurgery, neurology, cardiology and pulmonology.

The two entities already have collaborated on specific programs, including physician cross-coverage for the Children’s Heart Center and a National Institute of Health grant that’s part of PCH’s Heart Center, housed at the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s. In spite of the various joint programs, no large-scale alliance had ever been attempted. PCH initially approached St. Joseph’s about a wider-ranging alliance, and the timing proved to be just right. Due to state budget issues, capacity constraints St. Joseph’s is facing, and the expansion already underway at PCH, the collaboration seemed like the natural progression.

“When I approached Linda Hunt in 2008 about revisiting a formal collaboration, we agreed to discard the baggage of failed collaborations of the past and brought fresh thinking to the discussion,” Meyer says. “What we found is that we are more alike than different. We share a common vision and very similar values. We are equally committed to excellent medical care, (and) both need to grow.”

The challenges facing these two health care leaders are daunting. Phoenix is one of the fastest-growing regions in the nation, and medical centers and hospitals must be prepared to face a large influx of young patients in the future. However, with both noted hospitals banding together, incredible progress can be made.

“By combining our pediatric programs, we can achieve a level that would be on par with the leading children’s hospitals in the country more quickly and efficiently than doing so alone,” Meyer says.

Among other things, the alliance will improve access to higher quality pediatric health care services in a cost-effective manner, enhance recruitment and resources for services and programs, accelerate the development of research programs, maintain and improve medical services for the under-served and more, Meyer adds.

The process of finalizing the proposed alliance is ongoing. At this time, presentations outlining the plans for the alliance have been made to physicians and staff at both hospitals. In addition, feedback programs have been created to field any questions or concerns employees may have. The process of assembling work groups with representatives from both hospitals participating in the integration plans also has begun.

“We believe this strategic alliance with CHW/St. Joseph’s will enable us to achieve our bold vision to be recognized as a national leader in pediatric health care,” Meyer says. “This community benefits from the strength of two of the leading providers of children’s medical care, because we’re better together than alone.”

www.phoenixchildrens.com | www.stjosephs-phx.org

Arizona Business Magazine June 2010

Woman standing over a desk

First Job: Linda Hunt, Service Area President, Catholic Healthcare West Arizona And St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center

Linda Hunt
Service Area President, Catholic Healthcare West Arizona and St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
During the day, I was a secretary for a construction company. I answered phones, coordinated job assignments and oversaw payroll. In the evening, I worked at Walgreens stocking shelves and cashiering. I learned making a living without a college degree was very hard work. It was tough holding down two jobs and trying to have a life, especially as a college student. I had a lot of fun, but knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in either position.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
When I finished my nursing training, I took a position as a staff nurse at Ochsner Foundation Hospital in New Orleans. My first assignment was in labor and delivery. I took the 3 to 11 p.m. shift because it paid more money. It was very exciting and frightening to be responsible for the lives of mothers and babies. As a new graduate, I learned a lot about life, experienced situations that brought people great happiness and overwhelming sadness, and I sometimes saw the violent side of humanity. I had a tremendous passion for being a nurse. It was fun working with people, hearing their stories, and witnessing new life come into the world. I would get teary-eyed every time I saw a birth — it’s so miraculous.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
I netted $250 a month working as both a construction company secretary and a Walgreens sales clerk. I spent eight months earning enough money to buy a used Buick. My first nursing paycheck netted $534 for two weeks of work.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did he or she play?
Dr. Jodi Alphin was a great mentor to me. I reported to her when I was director of nursing at St. Luke’s Hospital in Colorado. She mentored me in decision making, relationship building, and the art and science of leadership. Jodi molded my career in a variety of ways and helped me grow into a health care leader.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
Proposed budget cuts at the state and federal level have made this an extremely difficult time for health care. If you are entering health care today, you will need to be innovative and able to envision a different delivery system for care — a system that incorporates personal accountability, evidence-based medicine and prevention. This is a time in health care when you can make great contributions to mankind.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I would be an executive chef and owner of a world-class restaurant in a major metropolitan area. I would have won a prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for my food and wine.


Arizona Business Magazine

March 2010

Richard L. Boals President and CEO Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

CEO Series: Richard L. Boals

Richard L. Boals
President and CEO
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

What are some of the major trends in the health insurance industry?
In health, I think there is a shift toward an increased responsibility toward the individual. We’re asking people to take accountability for themselves. We’re giving them information that they can use to monitor their health status, but we also would hope that they would lose weight, they would quit smoking, they would wear their seatbelt and do the things that are sort of common sense, but can make their life much more enjoyable and in the net, save a lot of money.

In the business world in terms of health insurance, how is that industry looking right now in Arizona?
It’s actually, I think, very healthy. We, like every other industry, are starting to feel the pain of companies who are laying-off employees. So, we’re seeing a little bit of shrinkage within the general size of our group, but we’re growing at about 7 to 8 percent a year, so we feel very good about where we’ll be when we come out the other side of this economic downslide.

How has the recession affected the health care industry in general and health insurers in particular?
There are a couple of things that are happening. In the hospitals, they are starting to see fewer elective surgeries and to some extent that is the bread and butter of a hospital, and if people are holding off getting things done, that pulls down on their revenues. They are also seeing more cost-shifting from the government — or we’re seeing the cost-shifting from the government — and as Medicare and Medicaid pay less and less, I think it’s difficult for hospitals to make a bottom line.

What role is Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona taking in the debate over health care reform?
We’re trying to take a very active role both locally and in Washington. We believe that everybody ought to be covered. We’re a little perplexed that of the 40 million or so uninsured that about a quarter of them already qualify for some state or federal program and simply have not been enrolled. So as we talk about expanding the government’s role, I think we need to expand their accountability for getting people enrolled. But we believe that everybody should have access to good coverage. We believe that the government should not form a competing model, to not promote us but to try to bring us down. Beyond that, I think we’ll see what comes of it. I really believe that the government has an extraordinary opportunity here to inject energy into the health care system. My fear is that as they try to ratchet costs down and save money, they’re going to discourage innovations, and a few years from now we are going to be very disappointed that the supply of physicians and nurses and new technologies is going to be less than it is today.

BCBS of Arizona is working with the Arizona Healthcare and Hospital Association and the Arizona Chamber Foundation on what has been called “the hidden health care tax” in the state. How and why did Blue Cross Blue Shield become involved in this issue?
We’ve been interested in this issue for a long, long time. We were happy to see that others were beginning to recognize that this is a serious problem. About 15 percent of our premium is a result of a government program not paying their fair share. As the hospitals and doctors figure out that they can only push so much to the insurance companies or to the private individuals, they have to speak up and say it’s time for the government to start paying a more realistic amount for the care they are providing to their accountabilities, the elderly and the indigent.

What advice do you have for a C-level job candidate on how they can show either that board of directors or that panel they’re interviewing with that they are somebody who can successfully lead a change in a business?
I think it gets down to two things. One, it’s about the customer — you always have to have them in mind. And it’s about the people you hire to support you. Being in a C suite assumes that you are not doing the physical work, that you’ve hired a team of talented and dedicated people who are going to make you look good, and over the years I have been very fortunate; people have made me look good.

    Vital Stats




  • Joined BCBSAZ in 1971
  • Appointed CEO in April 2003
  • Board member for BCBSAZ, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and TriWest Healthcare Alliance
  • Board member for Greater Phoenix Leadership, the Translational Genomics Research Institute and the ASU W.P. Carey School of Business Center for Services Leadership
  • Won the ASU Alumni Leadership Award and the American Jewish Committee’s National Human Relations and Centennial Leadership Awards
  • Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Arizona State University; completed executive development courses at Duke University, the University of California, Harvard University and the University of Michigan
Hidden Tax Revealed Chart

Hidden Health Care Tax Hits Workers

The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) and the Arizona Chamber Foundation are joining forces to stop what we call a hidden health care tax on businesses and consumers. According to a study released by the Arizona Chamber Foundation, which is associated with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Arizona employers and the state’s 3.5 million privately insured consumers pay 40 percent above cost for hospital services, primarily because the state and federal governments significantly underpay hospitals for those same services.

“This study shines a light on what Arizona business and health care leaders refer to as the hidden health care tax,” says Suzanne Taylor, executive director of the Arizona Chamber Foundation. “The study demonstrates that when state or federal lawmakers reduce hospital payment levels to below their costs, Arizona businesses and consumers pick up the tab in the form of higher health insurance premiums.”

The study, An Analysis of Hospital Cost Shift in Arizona, was conducted by the nationally recognized Lewin Group. It found that in 2007, private insurance payments for Arizona hospital services exceeded costs by $1.3 billion in order to offset underpayment from:

  • State government — The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), Arizona’s Medicaid program that paid 79 percent of hospitals’ costs for providing services, underpaid Arizona hospitals by $407 million.
  • Federal government — Medicare, which paid 89 percent of Arizona hospitals’ costs for delivering services, underpaid Arizona hospitals by $481 million.

Uncompensated care — Arizona’s hospitals absorbed $390 million in 2007 — 4.4 percent of their total costs — for services they delivered, but for which they received no compensation.

Public insurance programs such as AHCCCS and Medicare are the primary drivers behind the hidden health care tax, paying hospitals below what it costs to treat patients. To cover these costs, hospitals shift the burden to private health insurers by negotiating higher rates to provide coverage.

“In this downturn, the hidden health care tax is particularly harmful to the economic well-being of our state,” Taylor says. “Employers throughout Arizona are grappling with incredible challenges ranging from declining revenues to shrinking credit. The hidden health care tax is another weight on businesses that want to continue providing employer-based insurance to their employees.”

Arizona employers and their employees typically share the cost of health insurance coverage, with employers paying an average of 81 percent of a single policy and 75 percent of a family policy for workers enrolled in their respective health plans. According to the study, in 2007 inadequate payment by AHCCCS and Medicare, as well as uncompensated care, increased private health insurance premiums in Arizona by 8.8 percent or $361 for every privately insured person.

The study revealed that public program underpayment in 2007:

  • Added $1,017 — $324 of which is due to AHCCCS underpayment — to the annual price tag of a typical family health insurance policy, bringing the cost to $11,617.
  • Increased by $396 — $126 of which is due to AHCCCS underpayment — the annual cost of a single health insurance policy, bringing the price tag to $4,519.

Underpayment by public insurance programs for hospital services exacts a steep price on employers, their workers and private purchasers of health insurance. In 2007, the cost shift due to AHCCCS, Medicare and uncompensated care cost: employers an additional $941.7 million, $301.3 million resulting from AHCCCS underpayment; employees an additional $292.8 million, $93.7 million of it due to AHCCCS underpayment; and private purchasers of health insurance an additional $41.4 million, $13.2 million of it resulting from AHCCCS underpayment
AHCCCS payment rate freeze.

  • Five percent AHCCCS payment rate reduction.
  • Disproportionate share hospital payments.
  • Graduate medical education.
  • AHCCCS payments to rural hospitals.
  • State savings of  $95 million.
  • Lost federal funds of $250.4 million.

Total dollar increase in private insurance premiums due to the cost shift of $1.48 billion in 2009 and $1.63 billion in 2010.
Individual increase in premiums of 19 percent for privately insured Arizonans due to the cost shift.