Cain Hayes talks healthcare, partnerships and potential at PowerBreakfast meeting

by Christian Morrow, Courier Staff Writer

Cain Hayes, CEO of Gateway Health, joked that though he’s only been running the healthcare system since November, many in the audience at the Oct. 18 African American Chamber of Commerce PowerBreakfast meeting knew him because he’s a “double boomerang,” having worked here in the financial services industry right after college and again in the early 2000s. He said he is thrilled to be back a third time and running Gateway.

After giving a brief summary of his career, he talked about Gateway, its mission, his strategic vision for the organization and its commitment to partnering with small and diverse businesses.

“We serve 330,000 members in Pennsylvania alone, and 100 percent of them are eligible for some kind of government-subsidized care. They are the poorest, most underserved and most at-risk among our population,” he said. “Our vision is that Gateway be recognized as the leader in total health.”

He then explained that, according to Pew Foundation research, only 20 percent of a person’s overall health is determined by outcomes related to clinical care—check-ups, surgery, etc. The other 80 percent is determined by genetic (20 percent) and social determinants like where one lives, access to health food, transportation, employment and housing.

THANKING SPEAKER—Doris Carson Williams and Samuel J. Stephenson thank Cain Hayes, center, for speaking to Chamber members. (Photo by Courier photographer J.L. Martello)

“So if social determinants are 80 percent of someone’s health, we should focus 80 percent of our attention on them. Gateway has a 30-year history providing holistic care,” he said. “We have a database of 3,000 service providers we partner with who can address and assist our members with services. Ultimately, we want to help people become self-reliant, however they define that term.”

As for working with small business, Hayes said Gateway spends tens of millions with small and diverse businesses, not just on supplies and consumables, but on professional services such as IT, consulting, operations, and marketing.

“It’s critical to our success, and it’s smart business,” he said. “But we can always do better and we’re open to dialog about how we might do that.”

During the brief question-and-answer period that followed his remarks, Hayes—at Chamber President and CEO Doris Carson Williams’ request—defined the difference between Medicaid and Medicare: the first was originally started to serve poor women with infants, the second is for the opposite end of the spectrum; anyone age 65 or older is eligible for Medicare.

Naturally, he was asked about “Medicare for all.” It was inevitable, he said.

“Whether you think this is the greatest idea since sliced bread or you think it’s the dumbest idea in the world, let me just give you some numbers,” he said. “First of all, health is a $3.4 trillion per year industry. There are 330 million people in the country; 180 million are insured through their employers and are generally satisfied; another 120 million are already insured through the government; of the 30 million left, 15 million are eligible for care through their employers, but don’t take it. That leaves 15 million people without coverage—it’s a lot of people, but it’s also only 5 percent of the population. Are you willing to upend a $3.4 trillion industry…for 5 percent?”


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