The CEO of a big New York hospital explains why he wants everyone in the US to have health coverage — but doesn’t support ‘Medicare for All’

NewYork-Presbyterian CEO Steven Corwin. Courtesy New York-Presbyterian
  • NewYork-Presbyterian CEO Steven Corwin knows how expensive the hospital can be.
  • “We do a lot of very expensive things,” Corwin told Business Insider. “We have to figure out how to reduce our costs.”
  • One way to bring down costs, Corwin said, would be to have universal healthcare coverage. But he doesn’t support “Medicare for All.”

Dr. Steven Corwin knows what he does is expensive.

Corwin is the CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Surgeries, intensive care, and other costly procedures are constantly taking place within its walls. Hospital care cost about $US1.1 trillion in 2016 – that’s 32% of health spending in the US.

“We do a lot of very expensive things,” Corwin told Business Insider. “We have to figure out how to reduce our costs.”

Seemingly every day, there are new headlines about unexpected hospital bills charging anywhere from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Often, it’s hard to know what you might be on the hook for paying, and hospitals aren’t always able – or willing – to give you an estimate. Numerous variables contribute to a hospital bill, including the type of health plan a person has.

Ideally, one way to bring down spending on hospital care would be to prevent trips to the hospital in the first place, with preventive care like check-ups and screenings. But to make that happen, people need to be covered by health insurance, Corwin said.

“We have to have universal coverage,” Corwin said. “Let’s forget the mechanism of getting universal coverage, but I think everybody’s gotta be insured.”

On the national stage, Democrats have been embracing “Medicare for All,” a form of universal healthcare that would expand the federally funded Medicare program, which today covers healthcare for seniors 65 and older, to all Americans.

While Corwin doesn’t support Medicare for All, it’s a concept he has on his mind, in part because of how much simpler what is known as a single-payer system would be on the administrative side of the hospital. Instead of worrying about the variability in different plans, hospitals would have only one plan to keep in mind.

But to him, there are two big questions around Medicare for All:

  • Logistically, what’s the tax structure the US would need to support that?
  • Does Medicare for All makes sense for the US as a country?

“I think we should have that debate,” Corwin said.