Tim Gens – the Heart and Soul of MHA – to Leave MHA

Timothy “Tim” Gens, who has provided both the intellectual and compassionate foundation for MHA’s strategy and policy efforts over the past 23 years, announced he will leave the association, effective December 31.

Gens, MHA’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel, had announced his intentions to the MHA Board and to staff in November.
Every major Massachusetts healthcare development over the past two decades bore the imprint of Gens’ leadership and influence in one manner or another, from the state’s efforts to expand coverage and reshape payment infrastructures, to advances in transparent public reporting of healthcare outcomes, and the development of nationally recognized patient safety improvements.

While Gens would be the first to credit the men and women he worked with over the years for any success he enjoyed, those staffers in turn have praised Tim for his ability to craft solutions to healthcare issues, and then to develop the association’s strategy necessary to bring those solutions to realization.

Gens' vision led to the creation of what is now known as PatientCareLink – the mechanism through which Massachusetts hospitals became the first in the nation to voluntarily post staffing data for all units in every hospital. Before the national Institutes of Medicine published its groundbreaking report on medical errors, Gens was instrumental in helping the Massachusetts hospital community move towards the acknowledgement that serious injury to patients merited a unified response; those efforts led to the creation of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Prevention of Medical Errors.

The commonwealth’s Uncompensated Care Pool – progressive in its creation but consistently underfunded – had over the years become the source of division between the state and the hospital community.

As MHA’s founding representative on the Affordable Care Today (ACT!!) Coalition, Gens was a leading proponent of resolving the pool issue by improving affordable and comprehensive coverage to the uninsured. He was instrumental in getting MHA and the hospital community behind the coverage expansions and “individual mandate” concepts that led to the commonwealth’s historic Chapter 58 healthcare reform law in 2006, and which later became components of the national Affordable Care Act.

He also understands that to provide excellent care to the patient – the center of all MHA and hospital community efforts – providers need fair reimbursement from public and private payers. The state and national debates over Medicaid and Medicare funding, the annual state budget discussions, and the new payment mechanisms that arose through special commissions in the commonwealth have all been influenced by Gens-driven strategy from MHA. While governors, legislators, and members of Congress recognize him as an advocate for his specific hospital constituency, he is also respected as a trustworthy and fair voice, insisting that the data MHA presents in making its arguments be based in solid scholarship. Of special note, Gens’ work related to the Medicare area wage index issue has greatly benefited MHA’s member hospitals.

His friends and associates appreciate him as a master strategist, able to see how an action in one regulatory agency or legislative office could rebound and affect another issue months down the line in another part of state government. An extraordinarily personable man, possessing a wonderful sense of humor, Gens has befriended many people within the healthcare community, forming relationships with labor leaders and employers, with hospital executives and insurers, patient advocates, nurse leaders, and more.

His current and past colleagues met recently at MHA to celebrate his time at the association. They reflected on not only his professional accomplishments but on how he has mentored many younger staff members on fundamental issues of character, compassion, and respect. Co-workers shared stories of Gens’ kindness in taking an interest in matters, both inside and outside of the office, that affected them. They recalled how almost every department would say, “Let’s run this by Tim” before taking action on a wide variety of issues.

Three years ago, in a small MHA celebration of staffers who had reached their fifth, tenth, fifteenth, or in Tim’s case, twentieth anniversary at MHA, he said, “MHA gets to advocate for a variety of major healthcare policy ideas that can help a lot of people, and to influence those ideas on both a state and national level. I am grateful for the opportunity to work on these challenges. But more important than the policies are the people I’ve worked with – and I’m especially grateful for my family. For me, the words that best describe what makes MHA special are: talent, collaboration, caring, and dedication.”

MHA thanks Tim for his talent, collaboration, caring, and dedication that has set a high standard for his peers – but also for the joyous nature he has brought to our work and the deep friendships he's formed with his colleagues. We know that the many people who are reading this small tribute and whose paths have crossed with Tim’s over the years join us in wishing him peace and happiness.