By DAN SMITH
The 50 or so gathered bankers and lawyers at the first Bankers Forum today at Roanoke's Shenandoah Club got a bit more than they bargained for with the unexpected appearance of Carilion CEO Ed Murphy at the speaker's podium.
This first-of-a-series talk to some of the region's notable bankers and lawyers was to have been by the Greenbrier's Jim Justice, the man who saved that monument recently, but he ran into a health problem and Murphy stepped in to give one of his patented and detailed Harvard-trained talks.
Murphy's thrust to an audience that was generally more conservative than he was one they could identify with: the lack of sustainability in the increase of health care costs. Murphy, who cited chapter and verse of the consistent and dramatic increase in costs over the past 30 years (4.2 percent, compared to a Gross Domestic Product increase of 2.2 percent and a rise from five percent in 1965 to more than 17 percent now of health care expense as a percentage of GDP) was well armed with proposed solutions.
Those solutions weren't predictable, coming from a health care executive and a physician. He wants--expects--his own industry to be more responsive to the needs of the consumer and to be held accountable for outcomes. He wants to "link the [health care] budget to innovation." He insists that at this moment in history, providers are paid for "doing things to patients, not caring for them." Hospitals, he insists, are penalized for saving and rewarded for increased spending.
Murphy presented the case that 30 percent of health hcare costs go to treatment that "provides no value or causes harm."
The interest in his topic was intense and the Q&A (both formal and after the session) was brisk and intelligent.
Bill Rakes of Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore, a Roanoke law firm, says the forums will be held "every three or four months" and will feature a wide range of topics for an invitation-only audience.