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Jeb Bush quits hospital chain before possible White House run

Jeb Bush has served with Tenet Healthcare, which has done well under the health care law.Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/File

WASHINGTON — The for-profit hospital chain Tenet Healthcare has announced that Jeb Bush will be stepping down from its board of directors by the end of the year, as he explores a run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Bush has served on the board of Tenet since 2007. But there’s one obvious reason that keeping it on his resume might not look good politically: Tenet has benefited greatly from the Affordable Care Act, which much of the Republican base is still committed to repealing.

Bush has been a vocal opponent of the health care measure, calling it ‘‘flawed to its core.’’


The job Bush is giving up has been lucrative. He earned $128,500 in cash plus $170,000 in stock last year for a total of $298,500 according to Tenet’s 2013 proxy statement. And he sat on the board during a particularly profitable time.

Tenet is the country’s third-largest publicly traded hospital chain, with 80 hospitals across 14 states and more than 200 outpatient centers in 16 states. The Dallas-based chain immediately reported reaping the benefits of coverage expansion since the federal health care program took effect at the start of this year.

Tenet’s share of uninsured patients and charity-care patients has dropped significantly, while the share of Medicaid patients have increased. In just the second quarter this year, Tenet saw unpaid care drop $78 million.

This swing has been more pronounced in Massachusetts and the four other states where Tenet operates hospitals that have opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act: Arizona, California, Illinois, and Michigan.

Tenet is also seeing more patients come in with private coverage from the federal health care exchanges, according to the company’s third quarter results issued last month.

Tenet reported third quarter revenue was up 6 percent compared with the previous year to $4.18 billion, with the company attributing 40 percent of the gain to the health care law.


Bush is also stepping aside from other business commitments. A spokesman said last week that the potential presidential contender will leave his advisory role with British bank Barclays by year’s end, Associated Press reported.

According to corporate filings, Bush still sits on the boards of three other companies — Rayonier Inc., Empower Software Solutions, and CorMatrix Cardiovascular Inc. — and is chairman and manager of Britton Hill Holdings, a Florida-based private equity and business advisory group.

In a separate campaign development, Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, said in an interview with the AP that he will decide by March whether to launch a 2016 presidential campaign and whether he would seek the Democratic nomination.

Either way, Sanders said, he would not run just to nudge the debate to the left. ‘‘I don’t want to do it unless I can do it well,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t want to do it unless we can win.’’

Sanders said he is weighing whether to run as an independent, as he has done in Vermont, or as a Democrat. He has been critical of both major parties over the years, though he has aligned with liberal Democrats on many issues.

Sanders, a socialist, said he grew up in a ‘‘solidly lower middle class’’ family in Brooklyn. After his graduation from the University of Chicago, he came to Vermont in the 1960s as part of the counterculture, back-to-the-land movement that turned the state from solid Yankee Republican into one of the bluest in the country.


Sanders has been mayor of Burlington and an eight-term US representative, and is now in his second term in the Senate. He would be 75 in 2016, but says his health is good.

In an AP interview, Sanders said the issues about which he has been railing all these years are only becoming more dire. The wealth gap has grown, and the middle class, he says, is ‘‘collapsing.’’

He has plans that he says will restore the economy and especially the middle class, most of it dependent on higher taxes on the rich and businesses.

Among the proposals: A $1 trillion infrastructure building program that would ‘‘create 13 million decent-paying jobs,’’ more worker-friendly international trade deals and legislation to strengthen unions, and transforming the US energy system ‘‘away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy.’’