Dr. Weiss, the president and CEO of the NCH Healthcare, was very kind to speak with me on the phone and answer few questions. Below is a brief recap of our conversation.
Question: Being a president and CEO of the NCH Healthcare system sounds like an overwhelming job, what made you go for it?
I spent 23 years in private practice, last 17 years in administration. I made transition to administration in 2000. I had to learn the business side of the healthcare system. I spent 6 years as president, 11 years as CEO and president. I went for the job because it was an inspiration. I wanted the opportunity to make a difference. It is a serious job, it has challenges, but I love it. I think we are making progress.
Question: What are the challenges facing NCH Healthcare system today and how are they different from the challenges 5-10 years ago?
We are facing huge uncertainty from Washington and Tallahassee. We try to provide high quality care to everyone. 5 years ago, our situation was more stable. Today state and federal government are running out of money. Health care costs 18 % of GDP and it is growing.
Question: NCH Healthcare system is one of the largest job creators in our community. How can we make sure it continues to be so?
We do employ a great number of people, using 2015 numbers, we employ 4,300 folks working with us either full- or part-time, seasonally or year-round. Indirectly, we have created 13,275 additional jobs because we buy services and supplies from others. Of course, school system is number one employer in the county. We have a goal – keep our community healthy. Competent and compassionate healthcare, while providing peace of mind to a community, adds economic benefit and other “non-traditional” contributions and liaisons.
Question: What our politicians need to do to make health care more affordable?
We should not exploit sickness to make a profit. Health insurance is a big business. 20% of person’s monthly health insurance premium goes to the insurance company to cover operating costs and generate profit. That is a lot of money. But they are not the only ones who benefit. Think tobacco industry. How much money did the tobacco industry make and how many people did it make sick? We are all paying for it. We could take care of our national debt if we didn’t have to pay for all the sick people numerous big businesses create. What politicians can do is to make it harder for businesses to make money if the product they sell makes the public sick. We should spend more money on prevention. Big companies, big pharma have lobbyists and their interests are very well protected. We need to push our politicians to do the work on our behalf, work for our vote.
Question: What do you think about the universal care?
An efficient single payer focused on prevention takes a big insurance business out of the equation. It is a step towards stopping the businesses from making money out of sickness. We need to focus on prevention, keep our population healthy in the first place.