60 of the most powerful people in healthcare in 2016

Power can be measured by size, expertise, revenue, political authority or social influence. Becker's Healthcare believes the following 60 men and women possess and exhibit power in all of the aforementioned ways, if not more.

From the pediatrician who sounded the alarm on the water crisis in Flint to the journalist who exposed one of healthcare's most volatile startups, each of 2016's most powerful people exercised their unique expertise, authority and position to bring about change.

Powerful individuals are presented in alphabetical order.

Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD. Director of the Pediatric Residency Program at Hurley Medical Center (Flint, Mich.). Dr. Hanna-Attisha first blew the whistle over lead in the drinking water for Flint, Mich., in September 2015 when she confirmed the proportion of children with elevated lead levels in their blood doubled since the city switched its source of water from Lake Huron to the Flint River.

Nancy Howell Agee. President and CEO of Carilion Clinic (Roanoke, Va.). In addition to her work as head of 685-physician Carilion, which attracted national attention in 2016 for its work against caregiver burnout, Ms. Agee is preparing for her role as chairman of the American Hospital Association, which will take effect in 2018.

John Bates. U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia. Judge Bates will rule on the proposed $37 billion Aetna-Humana merger, which would combine two of the largest providers of Medicare Advantage plans.

Mark T. Bertolini. Chairman and CEO of Aetna (Hartford, Conn.). Mr. Bertolini is leading Aetna, which generated $60 billion in 2015 operating revenue, through a $37 billion deal with Louisville, Ky.-based Humana. If finalized, the deal would create the largest player in the Medicare Advantage market.

Leah Binder. President and CEO of The Leapfrog Group (Washington, D.C.). Ms. Binder has led Leapfrog since 2008. The patient safety organization releases an annual report card that assigns letter-grades to more than 2,500 hospitals reflecting their rates of medical errors, infections and other adverse events. 

Deborah Burger, RN; Jean Ross, RN; Karen Higgins, RN. Co-Presidents of National Nurses United (Silver Spring, Md.). Ms. Burger, Ms. Ross and Ms. Higgins co-lead the largest union of registered nurses in the country. In 2016, NNU played a part in the 37-day nurse strike affecting Allina Health hospitals throughout Minnesota. The Minnesota Nurses Association, an NNU affiliate, represented the more than 4,000 nurses who striked from Sept. 5 to Oct. 13.

Sylvia Mathews Burwell. 22nd Secretary of Health and Human Services (Washington, D.C.). Ms. Burwell marked her second-year anniversary as HHS secretary in June and oversaw Healthcare.gov during the busiest day of its existence in November as more than 100,000 people selected health plans in a single day during open enrollment.

Bruce D. Broussard. President and CEO of Humana (Louisville, Ky.). Mr. Broussard is leading Humana, which recorded $54 billion in revenue in 2015, through a $37 billion deal with Aetna that would create the largest player in the Medicare Advantage market.

Robert M. Califf, MD. Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (Silver Spring, Md.). The Senate confirmed Dr. Califf as head of the FDA in February, propelling the cardiologist to an agency that regulates about a quarter of every dollar spent in the U.S.

William F. Carpenter III. Chairman and CEO of LifePoint Health (Brentwood, Tenn.). 2016 marked a decade of Mr. Carpenter at the helm of LifePoint. The system recorded more than $5 billion in revenue in 2015 and, in the past year, expanded its network from 64 to 72 hospitals and recorded increased admissions.

John Carreyrou. Investigative Reporter for The Wall Street Journal (New York City). Mr. Carreyrou's October 2015 exposé of Theranos was a primary trigger for the regulatory and quality scrutiny the company received from federal officials. Theranos faced a long series of repercussions as a result, including lawsuits, a terminated partnership, lab closures and layoffs.

Margaret Chan, MD. Director-General of World Health Organization (Geneva, Switzerland). Dr. Chan has headed this United Nations agency since 2006, meaning for the past decade she has played an instrumental role in responding to global health emergencies and ethical policy changes.

Mark Chassin, MD. President and CEO of The Joint Commission (Oakbrook Terrace, Ill). Dr. Chassin heads the nonprofit, independent accreditation firm that certifies nearly 21,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States. The Joint Commission is one of several organizations approved by CMS to certify hospitals.

Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD. Director of the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, Md.). As overseer of the U.S. agency for biomedical research, Dr. Collins said 2016 brought the most encouraging budget outcome in 12 years, with a 6.6 percent boost to $33.1 billion for the next fiscal year following years of flat budgets, inflation and sequestration.

David Cordani. President and CEO of Cigna (Bloomfield, Conn.). Mr. Cordani leads the health insurer, which recorded $38 billion in revenue in 2015 and is in the midst of a $48 billion merger with Indianapolis-based Anthem. If it passes antitrust scrutiny, the deal stands as the largest merger in the history of the American health insurance industry.

Delos "Toby" Cosgrove, MD. President and CEO of Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Cosgrove oversees the 95-year-old system with more than 4,450 beds and $7.2 billion in operating revenue in 2015. In early December, then President-elect Donald Trump appointed Dr. Cosgrove to a 16-member advisory panel of business leaders to share non-partisan advice on policy and strategy.

Tamika Cross, MD. Chief Resident at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. As an African American female, Dr. Cross' record of her experience on a Delta Airlines flight in fall 2016 in which her medical assistance was declined in place of that from a Caucasian, male physician triggered a social movement branded with the hashtag #WhatADoctorLooksLike. The campaign brought greater attention to minority physicians and stereotypes held about those in the medical field. Delta also changed its in-flight policy regarding medical credential verification after the event.

Helen Darling. Interim President and CEO of the National Quality Forum (Washington, D.C.). Ms. Darling took the interim leadership role at NQF in 2016. The former president and CEO of the National Business Group on Health has championed several healthcare causes since, including antibiotic stewardship and innovation in healthcare quality measure development.

Lloyd Dean. President and CEO of Dignity Health (San Francisco). Mr. Dean is the leader of a $12 billion health system with 39 hospitals that is currently in talks to affiliate with Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives to form a $28 billion organization.

Ronald DePinho, MD. President of MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston). In 2012, Dr. DePinho rolled out MD Anderson's $3 billion, 10-year Moon Shots Program to target 14 types of cancer and dramatically reduce mortality for the diseases. In 2016, President Barack Obama followed suit with the establishment of a nationwide cancer moonshot, led by Vice President Joe Biden, to accelerate cancer research.

Michael Dowling. President and CEO of Northwell Health (Great Neck, N.Y.). Mr. Dowling heads the largest health system in New York state — which includes 21 hospitals and 3,900 physicians — and in 2016 the system's reach expanded. In November, Mr. Dowling and Northwell released a rescue plan for four distressed hospitals in Brooklyn after securing a $700 million grant from the state to improve healthcare in the borough.

Judy Faulkner. CEO and Founder of Epic Systems (Verona, Wis.). Ms. Faulkner founded Epic in 1979 with a $6,000 investment. Today the company supplies EHRs to some of the biggest names in healthcare, including Boston-based Partners HealthCare, Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic and Houston-based MD Anderson Cancer Center — and Ms. Faulkner holds the No. 3 spot on Forbes' 2016 list of America's Richest Self-Made Women.

David Feinberg, MD. President and CEO of Geisinger Health System (Danville, Pa.). Dr. Feinberg became Geisinger's sixth CEO last year, and he's off to a running start. In 2016 alone, the 12-hospital system shared plans to partner with a medical school, refunded more than $400,000 to dissatisfied patients and kicked off a systemwide effort to hire 1,500 physicians, advanced practitioners, nurses and support staff.

Trevor Fetter. Chairman and CEO of Tenet Healthcare (Dallas, Texas). Mr. Fetter became CEO of Tenet in 2003 during what was a rocky time for the private, for-profit hospital operator. Since then, he's directed 79-hospital Tenet's organic growth strategy and, more recently, its focus on ambulatory business and innovative partnerships with nonprofits.

Bill and Melinda Gates. Co-Chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Seattle). The Gates co-lead the world's largest private charitable foundation with a powerful global health division that invests heavily in vaccines to eliminate polio, malaria and HIV.

George Gresham. President of Local 1199 - SEIU United Healthcare East (New York). Mr. Gresham began his career in the housekeeping department at Manhattan's Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, and now leads the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in the country with upwards of 400,000 members in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C. and Florida.

Ben Harder. Chief Health Analyst for U.S. News & World Report (Washington, D.C.). Mr. Harder oversees the U.S. News & World Report's hospital ranking system, which originated in 1990 and has since become arguably the most publicized and coveted ranking among hospitals.

Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah). Senator and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee (Washington, D.C.). Sen. Hatch led a bipartisan investigation of 20 hospitals in 2016 regarding the practice of concurrent surgeries, which resulted in new and definitive guidance for hospitals to ban the practice outright.

Andrew Hayek. Chairman and CEO of Surgical Care Affiliates (Deerfield, Ill.). Under Mr. Hayek's leadership, the outpatient surgery company — which operates 193 ambulatory surgery centers and surgical hospitals — recorded more than $1 billion in revenue in 2015.

Stephen Hemsley. CEO of UnitedHealth Group (Minnetonka, Minn.). As CEO of the largest insurer in the country, Mr. Hemsley made headlines in the spring when he shared plans to exit 31 of the ACA's state exchanges in 2017, remaining only on those in Nevada, New York and Virginia.

Amy Berman Jackson. U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia. Judge Jackson will rule on the proposed $54 billion Anthem-Cigna merger, which would reshape the market for employer-provided health coverage.

Regina Herzlinger. Nancy R. McPherson Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School (Boston). Ms. Herzlinger, the first woman chaired at Harvard Business School, is known as the "godmother" of consumer-driven healthcare for her work's role in ushering consumer-driven health plans into the industry.

Chris Holden. President and CEO of Envision Healthcare Corp. (Greenwood Village, Colo.). Envision Healthcare Corp., an S&P 500 company, was formed in December when Envision Healthcare Holdings merged with AmSurg Corp., which Mr. Holden previously headed as CEO before taking the helm of the newly formed organization.

Anupam B. Jena, MD. Ruth L. Newhouse Associate Professor of Healthcare Policy at Harvard Medical School (Boston). In 2016, Dr. Jena led a study that found female physicians at some of the nation's most prominent public medical schools earn nearly $20,000 less a year on average than their male colleagues. The analysis, published in JAMA, attracted national attention.

R. Milton Johnson. Chairman and CEO of Hospital Corporation of America (Nashville, Tenn.). Not only does Mr. Johnson lead HCA, a for-profit health system boasting more than 35,245 staffed beds as of June 2016, he also was named chairman-elect of the board of the Federation of American Hospitals in 2016, with his term beginning in 2017.

Darrell G. Kirch, MD. President and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges (Washington, D.C.). Dr. Kirch leads the AAMC, which represents all 147 accredited medical schools and nearly 400 teaching hospitals in the United States. The organization is the definitive source of analysis on the physician shortage, which is expected to range between 61,700 and 94,700 physicians over the next decade, according to its most recent analysis.

Vivian Lee, MD, PhD. CEO of University of Utah Health Care (Salt Lake City). In addition to her CEO role overseeing a system with a trademark focus on price transparency, Dr. Lee is also senior vice president for health sciences at the University of Utah and dean of the university's school of medicine. She is a prolific writer, penning more than 150 peer-reviewed publications and a textbook.

Kevin Lofton. CEO of Catholic Health Initiatives (Englewood, Colo.). Mr. Lofton oversees CHI, one of the nation's largest health systems with 103 hospitals and $16 billion in revenue, and is looking for new ways to grow its footprint. The system signed an agreement with San Francisco-based Dignity Health in October 2016 to explore aligning the organizations.

Loretta Lynch. 83rd Attorney General of the United States (Washington, D.C.). Ms. Lynch oversaw record-breaking healthcare fraud busts in 2016, including case involving 301 suspects who were charged with defrauding Medicare of $900 million.

Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Senate Majority Leader (Washington, D.C.). Sen. McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has led the push in Congress to repeal the ACA. With a Republican majority and president in 2017, the repeal of the healthcare reform law is all but a foregone conclusion.

Redonda Miller, MD. President of Johns Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore). Dr. Miller was appointed to her current position in May 2016, making her the first female president of the hospital in its 127-year history.

Patty Murray, D-Wash. U.S. Senator and Member of the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee. Sen. Murray made healthcare headlines in 2016 as she led the charge for answers from scope makers after superbug infections related to the devices broke out in several U.S. hospitals.

Elizabeth Nabel, MD. President of Brigham and Women's Health Care (Boston). In 2016, Dr. Nabel presided over the opening of Brigham and Women's new 14-floor Building for Transformative Medicine, directed nearly $350 million in National Institutes of Health funding and marked her first full year as the National Football League's first chief health and medical adviser.

John Noseworthy, MD. President and CEO of Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minn.). Dr. Noseworthy is at the helm of the Mayo Clinic, the No. 1 overall hospital in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. Mayo Clinic is currently the heart of a $5 billion, 20-year economic development initiative to position Rochester as a global destination for health and wellness.

Barack Obama. 44th President of the United States. President Obama signed the ACA into law in 2010, which continues to impact healthcare today. In December 2016, he signed the 21st Century Cures Act, a wide-ranging bill that increases funding for cancer research, expands access to mental healthcare and aims to combat the opioid abuse epidemic.

Neal Patterson. Chairman of the board, CEO and Co-Founder of Cerner. Mr. Patterson founded Cerner with two colleagues in 1979 and remains a leader at the company, which recorded $4.43 billion in revenue in 2015. Mr. Patterson is currently undergoing treatment for soft tissue cancer, which has radically changed his understanding of the patient experience.

Rep. Tom Price, MD, R-Ga. Chairman of the House Committee on the Budget. President-elect Donald Trump nominated Dr. Price, an orthopedic surgeon and Republican representative from Georgia who is staunchly opposed to the ACA, to head HHS. Dr. Price is in a position to play a large role in the Trump administration's plan to repeal and replace the healthcare reform law.

Edith Ramirez. Chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission. Ms. Ramirez became chairwoman of the FTC in March 2013 and has focused on promoting competition in the healthcare sector since, expressing concern over hospital consolidation and challenging mergers in several instances.

Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Speaker of the House of Representatives. Speaker Ryan leads the majority party in the House of Representatives and is a proponent of repealing the ACA. He penned his own replacement plan, The Patients' Choice Act.

Andy Slavitt. Acting Administrator of CMS (Baltimore, Md.). Mr. Slavitt took on his current role at CMS in February 2015. He oversees programs that provide 140 million Americans with access to quality healthcare, including Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program and the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Wayne Smith. Chairman and CEO of Community Health Systems (Franklin, Tenn.). Mr. Smith heads up one of the largest for-profit systems in the U.S., though it has gotten smaller of late — in April 2016, CHS spun off a group of 38 hospitals and a management and consulting firm to create Quorum Health Corp., and has been selling other hospitals to drive down debt.

David Strong, President and CEO of Orlando (Fla.) Health, and Daryl Tol, President and CEO of Florida Hospital (Orlando). Weeks after the June shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, Mr. Strong and Mr. Tol announced their health systems would absorb the medical bills for care patients' health insurance did not cover. This spared victims at least $5.5 million in medical bills.

Joe Swedish. CEO of Anthem (Indianapolis). Mr. Swedish sits at the helm of Anthem, the nation's leading health benefits provider serving more than 73 million through its affiliated companies. Anthem is poised to grow even larger through a planned merger with Bloomfield, Conn.-based Cigna if the deal clears its federal antitrust challenge.

Marilyn Tavenner, BSN. President and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans (Washington, D.C.). After leaving her post as CMS administrator in February 2015, Ms. Tavenner took over as head of AHIP, the national trade association for health insurers, which includes more than 1,300 members companies.

Anthony Tersigni, EdD. President and CEO of Ascension (St. Louis). Not only is Dr. Tersigni at the helm of Ascension — the largest nonprofit health system in the U.S. and the world's largest Catholic health system — he also is president of the International Confederation of Catholic Health Care Institutions and is on the board of several healthcare, Catholic and local organizations.

Kent Thiry. Chairman and CEO of DaVita (Denver, Colo.). DaVita is the parent company of DaVita Kidney Care — which, as of Sept. 30, 2016, operated or provided administrative services at 2,318 outpatient dialysis sites in the U.S. — and HealthCare Partners, a medical group that provides care to roughly 750,000 patients.

Donald Trump. 45th President-elect of the United States (New York City). As president, Mr. Trump can reshape the healthcare industry by signing legislation to repeal the ACA, which Congress has promised to present, and by filling key appointments in key government agencies, like HHS, CMS and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bernard Tyson. Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente (Oakland, Calif.). As chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, Mr. Tyson oversees annual operating revenue of $60 billion at the nonprofit system serving more than 10.6 million members in eight states and Washington, D.C.

Seema Verma. Nominee for Administrator of CMS (Baltimore, Md.). Ms. Verma, who President-elect Donald Trump nominated as CMS administrator, is president, CEO and founder of health policy consultancy SVC. She helped design the Healthy Indiana Plan, the state's consumer-directed Medicaid program that has served as a model for other states.

Eugene Woods. President and CEO of Carolinas HealthCare System (Charlotte, N.C.). In addition to heading Carolinas, Mr. Woods is poised to become the chairman of the board of the American Hospital Association in 2017 after serving as chairman-elect in 2016.

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