NAPH's Siegel to Take Charge of 'Safety Net' Hospitals

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , September 2, 2010

Siegel is joining the association, says Gage, with a certain degree of understatement, at a "very challenging period."

Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that public hospitals owned by the government are "drowning in debt caused by rising health-care costs, a spike in uninsured patients, cuts in Medicare and Medicaid and payments on construction bonds sold in fatter times."

Siegel is no stranger to the healthcare maladies facing urban areas, in particular. Siegel had been president and CEO of two different NAPH members: Tampa General Healthcare and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. He was also a health commissioner in New Jersey.

Siegel isn't afraid to cause a stir, either. As the GW paper noted, the university's Department of Health Policy under Siegel's leadership "made waves in the healthcare community with its research on minority health care and the reaction of a public rating system of healthcare providers.

"The biggest contribution we've made to research is that we've shown that hospitals and doctors who treat large numbers of minority Americans can really improve the quality of care they provide," he told the campus paper.

Siegel will be applying that social consciousness as he evaluates medical home programs, electronic record innovations, and other "best practices," he says, to improve the standing of the public hospitals.

"A big part of my job will be getting to the policy makers on the Hill, and the executive branch.  I have a story to tell."  As for being an African-American, "others can decide if that adds to my story or not," Siegel says, quickly adding that civil rights issues are often woven into healthcare issues.

Once he assumes his new post, Siegel won't be walking around Washington D.C., though. "I'll be traveling around the country, telling the story how critical it is to support (public hospitals) and millions of people are dependent on them every day."

 "Health reform may have passed, but our work is just beginning," he says.

Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.
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