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Q&A: Kaiser Permanente CEO Halvorson on Retirement

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, October 5, 2012

HLM: Can you be more specific? 

GH: When I'm coaching white CEOs who run big companies, and I say "think about your organization. If you were to get a job and you looked up the chain of command and saw the CFO, CEO, chairman of the board, the COO, the chief marketing officer and the head of information technology were all black women, and you're a white male, what do you think your chances would be of getting ahead? Would you want to be high performing if high performing isn't going to get you to the top?

But if you come in and see that some people are black women and some are Asian American men, and you look up the chain of command and you see diversity, you know that people got promoted based on their ability, not based on their race or ethnicity.

And people, when I tell that story, they say "Jesus, is that what it looks like here?" And I say, "yeah, pull out your annual report."

HLM: Let's get back to Kaiser Permanente a minute. How big was the organization when you arrived?

GH: We had 8 million enrollees when I arrived, with $30 billion in revenue. Now we have 9 million enrollees and $50 billion. We had 30 hospitals when I came on board and 411 clinic sites. We now have 37 hospitals and 611 clinic sites. We had 12,000 physicians, and now have 17,000.

HLM: A lot of hospital providers have a resentment of Kaiser because of its model. Nevertheless, you've been influential in modeling healthcare reform. How were you able to influence health policy leaders to incorporate Kaiser's provisions into PPACA?

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