Suf­fer­ing a loss

James Mon­gan’s death re­moves a wise and car­ing pres­ence

Modern Healthcare - - Opinions Editorials - NEIL MCLAUGH­LIN Man­ag­ing Edi­tor

We note with sad­ness the pass­ing of Dr. James Mon­gan, who died last week af­ter a long strug­gle with cancer. His de­par­ture is a loss for the health­care in­dus­try and for in­tel­li­gent and com­pas­sion­ate health pol­icy. In ad­di­tion to hold­ing the ti­tles of pres­i­dent and CEO of Part­ners Health­Care Sys­tem in Bos­ton, pres­i­dent of Mas­sachusetts Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal in Bos­ton and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Tru­man Med­i­cal Cen­ters in Kansas City, Mo., Mon­gan was in­flu­en­tial in fed­eral and state health re­form ef­forts.

He served as a U.S. Se­nate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee staffer and in the Carter ad­min­is­tra­tion as deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­tary for health, and then at the White House as as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of the do­mes­tic pol­icy staff.

Mon­gan also was a ma­jor ad­vo­cate of the Mas­sachusetts health re­form law, which has brought cov­er­age to about 98% of the state’s pop­u­la­tion.

Mon­gan’s low-key and an­a­lyt­i­cal ap­proach, his ded­i­ca­tion to prob­lem-solv­ing and will­ing­ness to com­pro­mise have be­come scarce com­modi­ties. To­day’s pub­lic fig­ures are more likely to ad­vance by prop­a­gat­ing out­landish con­spir­acy the­o­ries and work­ing as­sid­u­ously at dis­man­tling so­cial in­surance pro­grams, es­pe­cially in the health­care realm. And Mon­gan pos­sessed keen in­sight on health re­form.

The Sys­tem, a study of the Clin­ton re­form ef­fort by Haynes John­son and the late David Broder, re­counts how Mon­gan years ago as­sessed the dif­fi­cul­ties: “Politi­cians of both par­ties from the court­house to the White House have con­vinced Amer­i­cans and Amer­i­can busi­ness that they are stag­ger­ing un­der an op­pres­sive bur­den of tax­a­tion that saps most pro­duc­tive ef­fort. Al­though there is lit­tle ev­i­dence from other coun­tries to sup­port this be­lief, it is widely and deeply held. This eco­nomic, so­cial and po­lit­i­cal cli­mate fos­ters a self- cen­tered­ness, a fo­cus more on the in­di­vid­ual’s own needs than the com­mu­nity’s needs.”

Mon­gan was right—then and now.

On a happier note, we’re pleased to re­port that Mod­ern Health­care won nine editorial ex­cel­lence awards in this year’s Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of Health­care Pub­li­ca­tion Ed­i­tors competition. The mag­a­zine and its on­line pub­li­ca­tions earned more ci­ta­tions than any other pub­li­ca­tion.

The judges gave a Gold Award for Best Sin­gle News Ar­ti­cle to Joe Carl­son’s Aug. 2, 2010 Cover Story. It ex­am­ined how hos­pi­tals fail to make money on op­er­a­tions but still gain prof­its. Our daily news­let­ter on in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, Health IT

Strate­gist, won the Gold Award for Best E-news­let­ter. The Gold Award for Best On­line News Cov­er­age went to ModernHealth care.com for cov­er­age of the pas­sage of health­care re­form.

Mod­ern Health­care earned five sil­ver awards. One was for Best Fea­ture Ar­ti­cle, which went to Gregg Blesch for his May 24, 2010 Cover Story on en­vi­ron­men­tal authorities crack­ing down on hos­pi­tal waste. An­other for Best Leg­isla­tive/Gov­ern­ment Ar­ti­cle went to fi­nance re­porter Me­lanie Evans for her Feb. 22, 2010 Cover Story on the lan­guid flow of fed­eral stim­u­lus money to health­care.

The mag­a­zine’s Sur­vey of Ex­ec­u­tive Opin­ions on Key In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy Is­sues (March 1, 2010) won the Sil­ver Award for Best Orig­i­nal Re­search, and Mod­ern Health­care’s By The Num­bers an­nual sta­tis­ti­cal com­pen­dium re­ceived the Sil­ver Award for Best Spe­cial Sup­ple­ment. Evans’ “Of In­ter­est” Fi­nance Blog picked up the Sil­ver Award for Best Blog. Fi­nally, the mag­a­zine’s web­site, Mod­ern­Health­care.com, earned the Bronze Award for Best Web­site. These awards are a tes­ta­ment to the ded­i­ca­tion of Mod­ern Health

care’s editorial staff and its su­pe­rior cov­er­age of the in­dus­try.

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