May/June 2007

Lofton Delivers AHA Investiture Address


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Kevin Lofton, president and chief executive officer of Catholic Health Initiatives and chair of the Board of Trustees of the American Hospital Association (AHA), spoke at his investiture ceremony during the AHA’s annual meeting on May 6 in Washington, D.C. Lofton’s term as AHA board chair began in January 2007. Excerpts from his address follow: “Last year, when I became chair-elect, I was interviewed for Hospitals and Health Networks magazine...at one point in the conversation I said, ‘We once talked about health care in terms of a social contract. Unfortunately, that no longer exists. A social contract would be one in which our American society and all of its component parts viewed health care in the same way as we view the right to receive an education and the right to freedom of speech.’ At the end of the interview I said, ‘Our social contract has been breached and it must be restored...’ “For many, health care in the United States is the best in the world. For too many, it is not. Our health care system is marked by many superlatives. At the same time, it is marked by inequality and inefficiency for millions. In a country blessed with great wealth and resources, that is disturbing. It is our role, our duty, to help the women and men who deliver care to those in need. Together, we must reconnect the fundamental moral tenets of what made the American health system great and what drives us to be better. We must renew the passion for our work every day, and remind ourselves that 300 million Americans are waiting and longing for change. “Today, I challenge all of us to let go of our fears and work for transparency. More than anything, openness and candor about everything we do — from the bedside, to the boardroom, to the billing office — will help us renew the social contract with the communities that created us.” Lofton also previewed a framework for improving America’s health that the AHA will make public later this year. “It will lay out five opportunities for delivering a health care system to the American people that works, and how those opportunities can be met,” he said. “All five will ask much of hospitals, but hospitals alone cannot solve all the issues. Other health care sectors must also have skin in the game. Everyone — payers, providers, government and the public — must have a stake in the future of high-quality, affordable, sustainable health care for our nation.” Lofton introduced the five opportunities:
  • Improving the health of our nation.
  • Ensuring that health care is efficient and affordable.
  • Making health care safer and more effective.
  • Making the best information available for care decisions.
  • Providing health coverage for every American.
In conclusion, Lofton said, “We will raise the bar to change the way health care is delivered and paid for in this country... Together, we will restore the social contract for health care.”