Md. hospital group's chief to lead national agency


When he takes over as president of the American Hospital Association next month, longtime Maryland Hospital Association head Richard J. Davidson will shift from a statewide to a nationwide perspective.

Mr. Davidson, who has been president of the MHA for 22 years, said that health-care reform will remain a major priority for his new organization, a Chicago-based non-profit group that serves as a national advocate for hospitals. Mr. Davidson, 54, starts work July 15.

"I think that there's a continued frustration about health-care costs and the fact that so many people don't have access," he said. "Hospitals treat a lot of people in this country and never are able to get payment for it. What we as hospitals do is we pass that cost along to everyone else who pays the bill -- those that pay the bill pay an inflated bill to cover the care for those who can't pay.

"I think what's interesting is that business and labor have come to the conclusion that they'd like to see some action," Mr. Davidson said. "I think they'd like to see the government take it over, so they can get the so-called liability of health insurance off their books."

Mr. Davidson, one of four people approached to fill the vacancy left by outgoing AHA President Carol M. McCarthy, won't be moving to Chicago. Instead, he will work out of Washington, where the AHA does extensive lobbying and policy-setting work.

Coincidentally, Ms. McCarthy -- who has a law degree -- is coming to Baltimore to join the health law practice of Ober, Kaler Grimes & Shriver, which represents quite a few hospitals along the Eastern Seaboard.

"I think she's going to bring a breadth of experience that not only we don't have, but I would doubt any law firm in the country has, in terms of the broader problems faced by hospitals," Leonard C. Homer, an Ober, Kaler partner, said.

Ms. McCarthy will occasionally travel to Washington for lobbying activities, Mr. Homer said.

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