The ‘to do’ list – 12/3/2018

Author: ROBERT S./Monday, December 03, 2018

Rich Liekweg

BJC | I recently visited with a group of community and business leaders, where I had the opportunity to share my thoughts about the future of BJC and the changing health care landscape. I shared similar remarks during our November online town hall for team members (the replay is posted to BJCnet), and I’ll include some of those highlights in my next column.

While meeting with the community group, I also shared a “to do” list with them … but it wasn’t a list of things I’m working on. It was a “to do” list of things I’m asking everyone to consider. And I wanted to be sure to share this list with you too.

There are three key things we, as health care providers, need help with from our families, friends and neighbors to help make health care more universally accessible, and more personalized, while improving the overall health of St. Louis and improving the affordability of health care in America.

First, we must recognize that mental health is a disease that affects at least one in four of us. Mental health is a disease that is under-resourced and still stigmatized. Government payers, self-funded employer plans and insurance companies provide little reimbursement, and we have a severe shortage of mental health social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists. We need to advocate for parity by all payers when it comes to coverage and reimbursement for mental health services.

Second, support Medicaid reform. We send 2 billion of our Missouri tax dollars to Washington, D.C., each year that could come back here to drive economic benefit for Missouri, a state that is seeing a drop in state revenues and little-to-no population growth. There may be more hope today, as last month during the mid-term elections three “deep red” states — Idaho, Utah and Nebraska — approved ballot measures to expand Medicaid. We need to do the same here in Missouri by 2020.

And third — we are all aging. Avoiding death is not an option. But what can be an option is the quality of the care one receives at the end of life. Make sure you and your loved ones have an advance directive. Discuss it with your family and with your physician long before it’s ever needed. At BJC and Washington University, we are investing more in training our caregivers about how to better care for those at end of life and what comfort care we can offer.

Thank you in advance for your support in helping to share these important messages. While BJC — and the overall health care industry — continues to evolve and change, at our core we will always be focused on people taking care of people. Thank you for all that you do, each and every day, to take such great care of our patients, our communities and each other.

Rich Liekweg, BJC president and CEO

Email me at and follow me on Twitter @bjc_president.


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