Former Aetna CEO Delivers UCSF Chancellor's Health Policy Lecture

January 03, 2007
News Office: Janet Basu (415) 502-6397

Dr. Jack Rowe, an expert on health care economics and healthy aging, will speak at UCSF on Thursday, Jan. 11, as the second speaker in the UCSF Chancellor's Health Policy Lecture Series.

UCSF Chancellor Michael J. Bishop will introduce Rowe, who has titled his lecture "Market Solutions to the Health Care Crisis: Panaceas or Delusions?"

Rowe retired as chief executive officer of Aetna Inc., a leading health care and related benefits organization, in late 2006 and remains executive chairman. From 1988 to 2000, he was president and CEO of Mount Sinai - NYU Health, one of the nation's largest academic health care organizations.

He is a professor at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in the Department of Health Policy and Management.

Rowe will speak at 513 Parnassus Ave., Health Sciences West (HSW), Room 300, from noon to 1 p.m.. The event is free and open to the public. In the event of audience overflow, a live video transmission of the lecture will play in Room 302.

The Chancellor's Health Policy Lecture Series, established in 2006, brings a major figure in health policy to the UCSF campus several times a year, to raise awareness in the community of the important health policy issues of the day. In addition to his public lecture, Rowe will meet throughout the day with leaders of UCSF's four schools — Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy — and UCSF Medical Center, as well as friends of the university.

"I am constantly amazed that even physicians know very little about how we pay for health care services in the U.S.," Rowe says. "This lectureship is an opportunity to describe, in some detail, the broad themes and forces that are currently sweeping health care in the U.S., the responses of two major players — government and commercial insurers — to this environment, and the likely future direction over the next several years."

For example, he says, government involvement in paying for health care is increasing and soon will reach 50 percent of total costs. Meanwhile, commercial insurance has been shrinking by one percent per year over the past several years, and increasingly includes involvement with government-sponsored programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. These shifts are taking place within an environment where costs are increasing overall, in response to demands for improvements and accountability in health care, yet costs for particular services trend lower year over year.

Before joining Mount Sinai in 1998, Rowe was a professor of medicine and the founding Director of the Division on Aging at Harvard Medical School and Chief of Gerontology at Boston's Beth Israel Hospital. He has written more than 200 scientific publications, mostly on the physiology of the aging process, as well as a leading textbook of geriatric medicine. He has served as director of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Aging, as a former member of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) and is co-author, with Robert Kahn, Ph.D., of the book Successful Aging (Pantheon, 1998). He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

UCSF's Chancellor's Health Policy Lecture Series is organized by a committee with representatives from each of the schools and UCSF Medical Center. Committee chair Dr. Steven Schroeder, UCSF professor of medicine, said that the lectures have broad appeal across the university because health policy is relevant to all. "The activities represented within the UCSF community — scholarship, education, clinical service, community outreach — exist within a complicated and turbulent health policy context," he says.

In April 2006, the audience overflowed Cole Hall for the inaugural Chancellor's Health Policy Lecture, delivered by Dr. Jeffrey Drazen, editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The third Chancellor's Health Policy Lecture is scheduled for April 5, 2007, with Uwe Reinhardt, Ph.D., of Princeton University, an expert on health care economics.

This news release has been modified for the website