Celebrating 100 Years: Reflections from Robert Taylor, WHA President, 1986-2001
It’s hard to believe 47 years have elapsed since Warren Von Ehren hired a young staff member to help promote home health care, coordinate EMS services statewide, and provide staff assistance with growing problems of reimbursement.
WHA was a small organization with limited staff and wearing many hats was expected. The industry (we didn’t use that terminology back then) was far different from today. Hospitals were independent community organizations providing inpatient and emergency care. Physicians were separate and with the exception of a few large clinics, provided care in “doctors’ offices.” Managed care didn’t exist, and Medicaid was 4 % of volume.
Against this backdrop the state was committed to a system of centralized command and control. WHA initially tried to work within this framework until it became obvious that politics were draining local initiatives and the evolution of an efficient and quality health care system. One of WHA’s proudest accomplishments was eliminating this burdensome system from the backs of its members.
While WHA is a trade association representing corporations, the meaningful contact is with people, the leaders of its members and the great staff that made things happen. I’d like to mention them by name but where do you stop? Many are deceased, some are retired, and a few are still active. Let me just say they were committed to working within the WHA structure and recognized that local or regional decision making promotes an approach that evolves to meet the health care needs of the future.
WHA doesn’t provide health care services, but it can be proud that it created an environment that led to a system recognized as one of the best in the nation and in many facets a national leader.
It was an honor to serve for 28 years and lead WHA from 1986 to 2001.
This story originally appeared in the September 10, 2020 edition of WHA Newsletter