- Facing intense pressure to dissociate from President Donald Trump, the Cleveland Clinic announced Thursday it will not host a fundraising gala at his Mar-a-Lago club next year as originally planned. The American Cancer Society has also decided to move a gala from the venue, The Washington Post reported.
- Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove was a member of the Strategic and Policy Forum that disbanded yesterday after most of the members said they would leave the panel in the wake of Trump’s comments about the recent violence in Charlottesville, Va. Cosgrove appears to have been ready to stay on, however, according to a blog post Wednesday.
- Meanwhile, a few other healthcare executives have spoken out against Trump’s response to the protests. Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said in an internal memo obtained by CNBC he is “ashamed of our president’s behavior and comments.” A statement from Anthem CEO Joseph Sweedish did not mention the president specifically, but said the “violence and radical ideology at the center of the protests were no less than an assault on human dignity and our societal foundation.”
Many in the healthcare community called on Cleveland Clinic to move this year’s fundraiser for a Florida hospital in February, but the company chose to keep the event at Mar-a-Lago. Cosgrove personally was criticized for that decision as well as his statements Monday and Wednesday declining to resign from the Strategic and Policy forum.
The CEO exodus from that panel and the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative began with Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, whom Trump immediately criticized on Twitter. Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said soon after Trump tweeted the groups had been dissolved that he told the White House Wednesday morning he would no longer participate. Gorsky had also stated as recently as Tuesday that he would remain on the council.
Several of Trump’s actions and statements have angered the healthcare industry. Major industry groups and patient advocacy groups roundly criticized the Affordable Care Act (ACA) replacement bills he supported, which would have drastically increased the number of uninsured and slashed Medicaid funding.
The February protest against Cleveland Clinic was sparked by Trump’s executive order banning entry into the U.S. for people from many Muslim-majority countries. American Hospital Association said “the order could have a negative impact on international medical school graduates in our nation’s teaching hospitals in the upcoming academic year.” International medical graduates are more likely to work in underserved areas, according to the American Association of Medical colleges.
Providers and others in the healthcare industry have spoken out against Trump’s policies, but doctor’s also focus on not letting politics get in the way of patient care. Dr. Manik Chhabra, a primary care physician in Philadelphia who started the Clinician Action Network, told Healthcare Dive recently it is vital for providers to speak out honestly and factually. “A lot of the policies that are being proposed by this administration . . . I think a lot of providers are really beginning to understand that these policies are a direct threat to the patients we serve,” he said.