25 Most Influential People in Healthcare

by admin on December 07, 2009

Every year, Modern Healthcare puts out a list of the most influential people in healthcare. It really speaks to the state of our healthcare when you read the list and see how many of those who are considered powerful in healthcare are Washington insiders and politicians. However, they are the ones who make the rules and set policy. Here is a list of the top 25 most influential people in healthcare today, according to Modern Healthcare:

  1. 440px-Official_portrait_of_Barack_ObamaBarack Obama: The President of the United States has a huge role in influencing healthcare policies, and proposing ideas for new healthcare innovations. Barack Obama brought attention to the issue of healthcare during his presidential campaign. He also has a big role when it comes to influencing the public. Obama is a very visible figure whose speeches on healthcare have been broadcast. He is one of the most powerful people when it comes to setting healthcare policy, and probably will be as long as he is in office. As one of the most influential leaders in the world, Barack Obama is expected to take the lead in one of the most important issues of our time.
  2. Sebelius_speaking_with_troops_in_Pakistan,_27_Nov,_2005,_croppedKathleen Sebelius: As Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius has a great deal of clout when it comes to healthcare. Her cabinet level position means that she has the ear of President Barack Obama, as well as the ears of other policy makers and influence brokers. She is responsible for overseeing health services in this country, as well as suggesting policy ideas and working with members of Congress when it comes to suggesting different courses of action with regard to healthcare reform. Kathleen Sebelius is considered the “go-to” person for the U.S. health system for as long as she holds a position on the president’s cabinet.
  3. Nancy-Ann_DeParleNancy-Ann DeParle: This might be one of the most influential people in healthcare that you have never herad of. Nancy-Ann DeParle is the director of the White House Office of Health Reform. Healthcare reform is such an important subject that Barack Obama made an office dedicated to the process. DeParle’s job is to coordinate White House policy on health reform. She works closely with Kathleen Sebelius, as well as reports to the President about her ideas and the progress being made on health reform. She helps set policy and encourages compromise in working out reforms that are likely to make it through. She also hosts forums on health reform.
  4. 428px-Max_S_BaucusMax Baucus: One of the committees that is influential in Congress in terms of deciding the outcome of health reform is the Senate Finance Committee. And the chair of the Senate Finance Committee is Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana. As the chairman of this committee, Baucus decides on how expensive healthcare measures should be, as well as helps craft bills for health care reform. He can also decide which bills make it through the committee, and which never make it to the Senate floor for consideration. Max Baucus had a hand in creating one of the versions of the health reform bill that is under consideration right now, and he is very visible in terms of sharing his views about healthcare.
  5. Chuck_GrassleyCharles Grassley: Even though he is not the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Charles Grassley is still quite influential in terms of healthcare policy and law. He is a ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, and represents Republican interests on bills, include those relating to health, that come before the committee. Grassley is from Iowa, and is also considered to represent a “Heartland” view of healthcare. He has a history of compromise, and working with others, and is one of those who proposed changes to health bills in an effort to make them more broadly acceptable.
  6. blumenthalDavid Blumenthal: One of the issues that is prominent in healthcare is the need for information technology. Electronic medical records and other technologically related issues affecting healthcare are overseen by David Blumenthal. He is the national coordinator for health information technology. The idea is to bring healthcare up to speed with the rest of technology, and use technology as a way to help improve healthcare. As a reuslt, Blumenthal — and his ideas — are quite influential in health circles. Even better: He has a background in healthcare policy as a professor at Harvard Medical School.
  7. clancy-secondCarolyn Clancy: As the director fort eh Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality, Carolyn Clancy has direct insight into the workings of healthcare. Her position allows her to do research into the quality of healthcare in the U.S. Additionally, she authors papers on healthcare issues, and helps direct policy. Clancy is also visible and influential as she prepares statements and information for the general public. She is a medical doctor with firsthand experience in the health industry, and her position provides her access to policymakers and the chance to be a policymaker herself.
  8. StraubeBarry Straube: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is very important in terms of providing policy ideas and items related to the government run healthcare programs. Barry Straube is currently the director and chief clinical officer of CMS, and is influential in setting policy and providing ideas and information about health care reform and other health related issues. His insights are valued by Kathleen Sebelius, since CMS is part of the Health and Human Services department in the U.S. government. Straube helps coordinate policy and oversees what is happening with Medicaid and Medicare, as well as makes recommendations on topics related to healthcare, reform and government programs.
  9. 225px-Peter_R_Orszag_CBO_official_picturePeter Orszag: Instead of being a healthcare wonk, Peter Orszag is actually an economist. But because healthcare is so entwined with money decisions, and because health related issues take up a large portion of U.S. resources, it is little surprise that someone who runs the Office of Management Budget is so influential in healthcare. As former director of the Congressional Budget Office, Orszag is intimately familiar with the federal budget, and how money moves through the system. He recommends health policy moves — and analyzes suggestions for how they can be funded, or whether they even can be funded, based on the realities of government finances.
  10. 180px-AndysternAndy Stern: The fastest growing union in the Americas is the Service Employees International Union, and its president is Andy Stern. Stern is influential because of the number of people he represents — both in the U.S. and internationally. He is influential in healthcare because he is an outspoken advocate of universal coverage. With access to two million members of his union, and the ability to be persuasive, it is little surprise that this man is a major influence in healthcare. While he can’t seem to sway lawmakers into providing health system overhaul that includes truly universal healthcare, he has been keeping a public option and the idea of healthcare for all in the spotlight.
  11. 30353_jguest-125James Guest: One of the biggest pushes behind healthcare reform has been Consumers Union, which publishes the popular Consumer Reports line of magazines. One of the publications is even called On Health, and it looks at different issues related to the health industry and what consumers can do to be healthier. The president and CEO of Consumers Union is James Guest. He is regularly outspoken about the need for reform and transparency in healthcare. He often takes members of the government to task for putting the interests of their health industry contributors ahead of the consumers that elect them. Guest is seen as an advocate for the people, and he is well-known for providing helpful information on healthcare to ordinary consumers.
  12. george-halvorson-kaiser-permanenteGeorge Halvorson: One of the biggest managed care organizations out there is Kaiser Permanente. And the president of this integrated managed care giant is George Halvorson. As the head of a healthcare industry player, it is no surprise that Halvorson is one of the most influential people in healthcare. He has millions at his disposal to help lend his word and insights weight. Kaiser Permanente has 8.6 million health plan members, and more than 160,000 employees. It’s no wonder that Halvorson has a pretty god amount of clout when it comes to healthcare in the United States.
  13. 225px-Bill_Gates_World_Economic_Forum_2007Bill Gates: Huh? It may seem strange that Bill Gates is on the list of the 25 most influential people in healthcare. After all, he’s the tech guru and multi-billionaire behind Microsoft. It seems a little strange that he would influence healthcare. However, one must remember that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which he founded along with his wife, offers a great deal of money to health causes. Additionally, someone with the amount of money that Gates controls — not to mention the business interests he is involved with — can be influential in just about whatever sphere he enters.
  14. 250px-Arnold_Schwarzenegger_speechArnold Schwarzenegger: At first, it may seem a little odd that the actor and body builder turned politician would have such a huge influence on health care. However, when one stops to consider that Arnold Schwarzenegger is the governor of the most populous state in the U.S., it starts to make a little more sense. Additionally, Schwarzenegger has been pushing for healthcare reform in California. His thoughts on healthcare, reform and the government’s involvement in providing healthcare are listened to because he is the leader of a very important state.
  15. 220px-Nancy_PelosiNancy Pelosi: As the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi has a lot of influence in a lot of ways. She holds a very high profile position, and when she speaks, even those who do not agree with her have to listen to watch she says. Pelosi is a Democrat from California. She has made healthcare legislation a priority, and has spoken of support for a public option for health insurance. Pelosi has a lot of say with regard to which bills are considered in the House, and has influence over what health care reform legislation might finally look like.
  16. RichardBrackenRichard Bracken: The Hospital Corporation of America, as you might guess, is an organization with a vested interest in healthcare issues. The Hospital Corporation of America lobbies for its positions, and influences healthcare policy decisions, as well as representing different hospitals. The president and CEO of HCA is Richard Bracken. His background in healthcare administration is one that allows him intimate knowledge of how the healthcare system works, as well as insight into different ways the policies would affect hospitals. He regularly meets with policy makers to share his views and can help shape the direction of healthcare in America.
  17. 18-big-ideas-to-fix-healthcare-now-01-afSteve Burd: The CEO of Safeway, Steve Burd, is well known as a healthcare reform advocate. He is known for motivating his employees to live healthier lifestyles, and for introducing an incentive program that paid them for healthier habits. Lower insurance premiums are offered to those who live healthy lifestyles, or change unhealthy habits. Burd has been advocating for reform that rewards good behaviors, rather than just punishing everyone for a society that has collectively poor health behaviors. He is outspoken about this concept, and his example is one that could influence other companies to follow suit.
  18. SrCarolKeehanSister Carol Keehan: As the president of the Catholic Health Association, the nun Sister Carol Keehan has a lot of influence in terms of healthcare policy. She strongly advocates quick healthcare reform, and is willing to anger even some in her own religion to achieve. She recently came under fire from prolife advocates in the Catholic church for her willingness to work with prochoice advocates to advance the cause of healthcare reform. Her views and willingness to compromise also make her someone who is to be reckoned with — and listened to — in the realm of health care.
  19. 561204037157110Paul Diaz: It is not surprising that CEOs of powerful healthcare companies are on this list of influential people in healthcare. Paul Diaz is the President and CEO of Kindred Healthcare, and is well known as the leader of a major healthcare company. Kindred Healthcare is known for running hospitals in the south and midwest, and for giving contributions to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, even though Diaz himself is a Democrat. As expected, Kindred has the ears of a number of lawmakers, and works hard to get its voice heard in the healthcare debate and make sure that the company has a place at the table when it comes to healthcare reform.
  20. berwick_lgDonald Berwick: One of the foremost thinkers in healthcare reform is Donald Berwick. He is a pediatrician, and also a professor in health policy at Harvard’s School of Public Health. He is also the President and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. This organization aims at improving the state of healthcare in the United States. Berwick has long been a voice for reform and interested in healthcare policy. He has written several papers on the subject, and he is considered a thought leader in healthcare. It is no surprise that he is considered one of the 25 most influential people in healthcare.
  21. W000215Henry Waxman: As the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Democrat Henry Waxman has influence over legislation related to healthcare. The Energy and Commerce Committee has much to do with what is related to healthcare policy, since healthcare is so intertwined with money. Waxman helps decide which bills make out of his committee and see debate in the U.S. House of Representatives. He also works with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on other issues related to law and policy in healthcare, as well as meets with members of the Senate and others.
  22. article4Drew Altman: One of the 25 most influential people in healthcare is Drew Altman, the President and CEO of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Altman is the head of an organization that provides health information and research, as well as helps craft healthcare policy. It is important to note that the Kaiser Family Foundation is not related in anyway to Kaiser Permanente. This can be a point of confusion to many. However, the two organizations are not related, and sometimes have different goals with relation to healthcare. Altman offers policy ideas, and offers insight into healthcare reform, and often speaks with political leaders and others.
  23. THOMPSONgrayscalePamela Thompson: As the CEO of the American Organization of Nurse Executives, it is little surprise that Pamela Thompson is a powerful person in healthcare. She heads up an organization that is interested in research to improve patient care and offers help to improve nursing practice. It is an organization that encourages nurse leadership. It is no surprise that she is invited to share her thoughts on healthcare with policy makers, and voices her opinions to influence the direction of healthcare in the U.S. As a leader of a strong organization, she has power and interest in the healthcare debate.
  24. 225px-Newt-2004-clippedNewt Gingrich: Many people remember the days when Newt Gingrich was the Speaker of the House of Representatives and helped end the Clinton Administration’s proposed overhaul of the healthcare system. The prominent Republican, though no longer a lawmaker, is still influential in the healthcare debate. He still has useful contacts on Capitol Hill, and he founded the Center for Health Transformation, through which he develops policy ideas and suggestions with regard to healthcare policy in the United States. He is good at networking, and he continues to wield power and influence in healthcare circles.
  25. Yarwood,Bruce_11001_11002Bruce Yarwood: The American Health Care Association is a powerful lobbying group with influence over healthcare policy. It is therefore no surprise that the President and CEO, Bruce Yarwood, is one of the 25 most influential people in healthcare. He is able to marshall the resources of an entire organization — the largest nursing home association in the United States. He is consulted by lawmakers and other policymakers with regard to healthcare, especially Medicare, and is able to share his opinions freely with leaders.

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