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Cain Hayes, President & CEO, Gateway Health 

posted by AHIP

on February 19, 2021

Mr. Hayes leads the strategy and day to day operations of one of the nation’s leading managed care organizations that serves over 350,000 Medicaid and Medicare members.  Mr. Hayes supports numerous community initiatives and serves on the Board of Directors of Drake University and the Association for Community Affiliated Health Plans. He earned a BSBA from Drake University, MBA from Webster University, and CEBS designation from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. 

 
 

A person’s overall health is impacted by more than just their medical issues. As such, we believe total health cannot be attained by simply providing access to health care.

 

What role does culture play in health care? How can health insurance providers use cultural competencies to improve health care outcomes?   

As the CEO of Gateway Health, a community-based, mission-driven health care company, I feel strongly that an organization’s workforce should be representative of the communities it serves. An organization can have a world-class strategy and operating plans, but it’s nearly impossible to consistently implement those things well without having a diverse and inclusive culture with the right people on board to execute. 

A person’s overall health is impacted by more than just their medical issues. As such, we believe total health cannot be attained by simply providing access to health care. To create a community of all-around healthy individuals, a person’s social, cultural and language needs must be metIt’s our responsibility to create and deliver culturally competent services that remove barriers and address disparities, so every individual has access to the resources they need to achieve optimal health. A testament to that belief is Gateway Health’s recent award for the Multicultural Health Care Distinction by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). NCQA awards distinction to organizations that meet or exceed its rigorous requirements for multicultural health care. 

Gateway Health cares for the whole person in all communities where the need is greatest. Our communities include members of diverse populations. To provide our members with the highest-quality service, we strive for a culture that attracts and retains the best talent in healthcare that also represents those same communities. 

Which health care leader who is African American do you most admire, and why? 

It’s hard to imagine myself in my current position as the President & CEO of a large health care company without the direct influence of someone I greatly respect and admire, Ronald A. Williams, the former Chairman, President & CEO of Aetna (now a part of CVS Health). When Ron arrived at Aetna in 2001, the organization was losing almost $1 million a day in operating earnings, with a market capitalization of $4.7 billion. By the time he stepped down in 2011, operating earnings were $2 billion and the market capitalization was $15.3 billion. In addition, Aetna was named, at least three times during his tenure, the most admired company in health care by Fortune magazine. An exponential turnaround is one way of describing such outstanding results.  

Williams’ accomplishments definitely speak for themselves, and they are definitely an ingredient for my strong admiration. Candidly, I would love to replicate those results as a sitting President & CEO. However, it’s not only what Ron accomplished while at Aetna, but also how he did it.  

While the business results were outstanding, Ron also ensured that Aetna was a part of the broader discussion on how to fix the health care system and drive for better health care outcomes. He was a champion of reducing cost, increasing access and improving quality. His commitment to leadership, and diversity in that leadership, is what led me to Aetna when I made a career change into health care after 20 years in financial services. I consider myself fortunate to call him a mentor and friend. 

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