Michigan Association of Health Plans

Gratitude and Celebration

As I mentioned in my previous post, there are several people I’d like to thank:

Thank you to Drs. Myron Wegman, Sy Axelrod, Avedis Donabedian—giants in their feld of public health and who made the University of Michigan School of Public Health a leader (and best).

Thank you to Lucy Yu, (University of Michigan Librarian) for pushing me to enroll at School of Public Health and to Dr. Ken Warner, faculty advisor and scholar for teaching me the basics of economic analysis and cost beneft analysis.

Thank you to Gordon Rude for being an early mentor in “real” legislative process, to then Sen.

John Otterbacher for enabling grad students to be so deeply involved in legislative development and to the late Rep. Ray Hood, for being the best Chair of Public Health there ever was and demonstrating how to be a gentleman while frmly holding to principles of solid public health.

Thanks to the various staff who worked at OHMA (Offce of Health and Medical Affairs), whose collaboration and strong research and data analysis provided “education by osmosis”.

Thanks to all of the State budget directors that I work for– each had their own strengths and values—and each one truly supported their employees during the year’s trials and tribulations of budget development and implementation: (Shelby Solomon, Patty Woodworth, Mary Lannoye—and most importantly to Mark Murray and his leadership and vision—best supportive working environment ever.

Thanks to all of the State Department Directors for Community Health, (Jim Haveman–twice, Janet Olszewski, Olga Dazzo, Nick Lyon) as this department touches all of Michigan— though primary prevention to acute interventions and everything in between. Their responsibility is truly huge and comparable to major corporations in terms of resource allocation and employees—I have seen each of them during the times of crisis and challenge and in my view their dedication cannot be questioned and Michigan should be thankful for their job of “well done”. Each one of them displayed character, vision, and public service.

The oversight of our industry by OFIS/OFIR/DIFS brought the perspectives of Commissioners (now Director) and their staff. Based on my personal interaction with Frank Fitzgerald, Linda Waters, Ken Ross, Kevin Clinton, Ann Flood and now Pat McPharlin, Michigan needs to feel proud of the balance and service for the public that they exhibited. They understood the balance between adequacy of rates and accountability of service and provision of benefts. They are leaders for transparency, when and where it makes sense, and quietly go about their business of regulating one of the largest industries in Michigan.

Of course thank you would obviously be extended to all of the former and current leadership at the Michigan Association of Health Plans—but I must note a few specifcally. My early board chairs of Kim Horn then Fran Parker then Roman Kulich could not have been a better formula for association management—their vision, mentoring, and caring made the difference. That set the stage for MAHP Presidential leadership from David Crosby, Dennis Smith, Kathy Kendall, Bruce Hill, and my current Board President Beverly Allen—all of whom provided timely and responsive direction and continues the positioning of MAHP to be a strong health policy voice. Our award for individual achievement (Ellis Bonner Award) brought attention to other MAHP leadership including; Joe Lentine, Sr—what would our summer conference be without Joe’s influence; Bobby Jones, a gentleman, mentor, and friend—he needs to come back to Michigan; David Cotton—many stories here but MAHP doesn’t exist as we know it today without his work; Mark Saffer, behind this gentleman is a loyal and dedicated person and we wish him well; Bill Alvin—where personal courage has gone to reside and it was so good to see him at summer conference; and most recent award recipients of Dan Champney, Randy Narowitz and Jim Forshee—their dedication to managed care has brought quality of care and accountability to new heights while retaining a competitive focus for our industry–and to them MAHP owes much thanks.

Let’s Celebrate State Employees

In closing, particularly at this time, I need to underscore the value of state employees and services that they bring and have brought to Michigan. Many of our members have reach in other states and time after time they comment on the value and expertise of those state employees regulating and “driving” our industry. We know that it is too easy to be critical in today’s environment about state employees—but in my view we need to find ways to recognize and celebrate the value they bring to society. The nobility of state service drives much of their service not politics and as we strive to collaborate on social determinants of health care, and improve population health we will have to depend more on the vision and energy of state agencies. It is no mistake that Michigan has highly ranked health systems and health plans—this is based on the expectations and drive for accountability of our state partners. I can only hope that we continue this collaboration into the future.

Finally, the staff at MAHP have been outstanding, dedicated and a tremendous support to me, our members and many others. I have no doubt that this organization – led by Dominick Pallone will shine in the future.