The California Hospital Association has awarded the 2013 Award of Merit to Ron Werft, president/CEO of Cottage Health System in Santa Barbara.
The Award of Merit is CHA’s highest honor and is given to a CHA member for outstanding contribution to the California health care community.
Werft, who served as CHA board chairman in 2011, has worked tirelessly to improve the Medi-Cal program. California’s Medi-Cal program ranks last in the nation when it comes to funding health care for Medicaid patients.
This underfunding creates significant financial losses for hospitals and forces hospitals to shift unpaid costs to private payers. In an attempt to alleviate these shortfalls, California hospitals have assessed themselves nearly $3 billion annually, with the monies then used by the state to draw down matching federal funds for the Medi-Cal program.
Werft provided invaluable leadership in implementing the six-month Medi-Cal hospital fee program (Jan. 1 to June 30 in 2011) and gaining legislative approval of the 30-month Medi-Cal hospital fee program (July 1, 2011, to Dec. 31, 2013). The supplemental payments resulting from these fee programs not only help to cover reimbursement shortfalls, but also support health care for children.
Werft joined Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in 1987 as executive vice president and chief operating officer, and has served as president/CEO of Cottage Health System since 2000.
The three-hospital nonprofit system provides acute inpatient, outpatient and emergency care to the residents of the Central Coast of California. Werft is a graduate of UC San Diego, and holds a master’s degree in hospital and health care administration from the University of Minnesota.
— Maria Zate is the manager of marketing and public affairs for Cottage Health System.