The Massachusetts hospital industry’s largest trade group Thursday named former state representative Steven Walsh as its new chief executive.
Walsh, 44, will head the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association beginning in November, replacing Lynn Nicholas, 63, who announced her retirement several months ago.
Walsh is currently the executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals, a smaller trade group. He was a Democratic state representative from Lynn for 11 years, until 2014.
In the Legislature, Walsh was chairman of House Committee on Health Care Financing, where he helped write a health care cost containment law known as Chapter 224. That law has pushed hospitals and insurers to more aggressively control costs, in part by setting a target of keeping health spending increases in line with economic growth.
Walsh, a lawyer who has a master’s degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School, said his experience working on the 2012 law confirmed that he wanted to make a career in health care.
The Mass. hospital association lobbies on behalf of one of the state’s largest industries, giving Walsh a powerful voice. He will take charge of the group at a time of ongoing change and uncertainty in the health care industry.
Hospitals are still watching for policy changes that could come out of the Trump administration in Washington. They’re also engaged in a fundamental shift in how they provide and get paid for giving care, moving from a system that rewards hospitals for every service and procedure they provide to one focused more on achieving better outcomes while keeping costs in check.
“We’re seeing unprecedented change in health care both nationally and locally,” Walsh said.
As head of an organization that represents 78 different hospitals, Walsh will have to find common ground on issues where members sometimes disagree. Community hospitals and large teaching hospitals, for example, have been at odds on the issue of price disparities in health care.
Kate Walsh, chief executive of Boston Medical Center and chairwoman of the hospital association’s board, said Steve Walsh has the right experience and enthusiasm to lead the group. (The two Walshes are not related.)
“His vision for the future of our Commonwealth’s hospitals, health systems and other affiliated caregivers will undoubtedly be a great asset given that health care at the national level is in flux and the pace of reform continues in Massachusetts,” Kate Walsh said in a statement.