Michigan Health & Hospital Association Recognizes Healthcare Champions

Posted on June 29, 2018

The Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) June 28 honored four individuals who have greatly influenced healthcare across the state. Receiving the association’s highest achievement award, the 2018 Meritorious Service Award, were Richard Breon, president and CEO, Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids; Rob Casalou, president and CEO of Mercy Health in western Michigan and Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in southeast Michigan; and David Seaman, executive vice president and chief operating officer, MHA, Lansing. The awards were presented during the MHA Annual Membership Meeting held this week. The association’s 2018 Special Recognition Award will honor Gov. Rick Snyder, who was unable to attend the event, and will be presented to him at another time.

2018 Meritorious Service Award winner Richard Breon, president and CEO, Spectrum Health.Rick Breon was recognized for the many contributions he has made to healthcare during his career. With plans to retire at the end of this year, Breon has led Grand Rapids-based Spectrum Health since 2000, starting three years after it was formed by the merger of Butterworth Health Corporation and Blodgett Memorial Medical Center. Breon shepherded the two staffs to become one cohesive, effective organization.

During Breon’s tenure, Spectrum Health became the region’s largest job provider, with more than 26,000 employees. The system now consists of 12 hospitals; 180 ambulatory and service sites; 3,600 physicians and advanced practice providers, including 1,500 members of the Spectrum Health Medical Group; and Priority Health, a health plan that served 996,000 members in fiscal year 2017. Critical needs have been addressed through such advancements as the Richard DeVos Heart and Lung Transplant Program, the Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion.

An active member of the MHA, Breon served on the MHA Board of Trustees for nine years, five of them as part of the Board Executive Committee and the 2007-2008 program year as Board chair. He was a member of the Graduate Medical Education Committee and the Legislative Policy Panel and was chair of the Strategic Planning Committee.

In addition, Breon has been a member of the American Hospital Association (AHA) Regional Policy Board, the Michigan Certificate of Need Committee, the Michigan Hospital Advisory Commission, and chaired the AHA NOVA Award Committee. He is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and holds governance positions with economic development organization The Right Place, the Regional Air Alliance of West Michigan, the West Michigan Policy Forum and Florida-based health plan WellCare®.

Repeatedly recognized for programs to improve community health, since 2000 Spectrum Health has won the AHA NOVA Award three times, the MHA Ludwig Committee Benefit Award five times, and the Foster G. McGaw Prize for Excellence in Community Service in 2016. In addition, Spectrum Health has been listed among the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems by Truven Health AnalyticsTM six times since 2009.

2018 Meritorious Service Award winner Rob Casalou, president and CEO of Mercy Health and Saint Joseph Mercy Health System.Rob Casalou was honored for his extensive and ongoing service to hospitals and healthcare. He has been a member of the MHA Board of Trustees since 2011, a member of the MHA Board Executive Committee from 2013 through 2017, and board chair during the 2015-2016 program year. Casalou has served on several MHA committees and task forces, including seven years on the MHA Legislative Policy Panel. He also chaired the MHA Health Foundation Board in 2016-2017.

In addition to his service to the MHA, Casalou has been a delegate and is currently chair of the American Hospital Association (AHA) Regional Policy Board 5, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. He was elected to a three-year term on the AHA Board of Trustees that began Jan. 1 and is currently board chair of Together Health Network, a statewide clinically integrated organization.

Casalou is a board member of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, an emeritus advisory board member of the Griffith Leadership Center at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives. In addition, he is a member of the Make-a-Wish Michigan board of directors.

Casalou served for 19 years in various positions with Ascension St. John Providence Health System, based in Warren, and oversaw the construction of Providence Park Hospital in Novi, where he was president and CEO until its completion in 2008. He joined Saint Joseph Mercy Health System that year as president of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston hospitals and, in 2015, was promoted to president and CEO of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System. The health system merged earlier this year with Mercy Health in West Michigan to create one statewide system under Livonia-based Trinity Health.    

2018 Meritorious Service Award winner David Seaman, executive vice president and chief operating officer, MHA.David Seaman was recognized for his impact on health policy during a long and distinguished career in healthcare. He has been the second-in-command at the MHA since coming to Michigan in 1985, directing the association’s public policy, advocacy and communications efforts, as well as providing advice on all major internal and external issues affecting the MHA and its members.

A native of Buffalo, NY, Seaman earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees from Cornell University. He served in senior leadership at what was then the Hospital Association of New York State in Syracuse in the 1970s and 1980s.

Among the most satisfying accomplishments during his service in New York was advocating for the successful establishment of a definition of brain death, which became a model for other states. He considers his most significant achievements at the MHA to be his role in developing the hospital tax program with the state of Michigan, which provides funding for the Medicaid program, and the passage of the Healthy Michigan Plan.

In New York, Seaman served on many state and national advisory groups on topics such as technological innovation, long-term care, mental health and minority management. He was also co-chairman of New York Governor Mario Cuomo’s Nutrition Education Campaign. In Michigan, he has been a member of the American Red Cross Mid-Michigan Chapter board of directors and a longtime member of the Michigan Nonprofit Association, including stints as board chair.

Seaman plans to start enjoying retirement in early January.

Gov. Rick Snyder is being honored for his outstanding work in establishing and protecting the Healthy Michigan Plan, which has provided expanded Medicaid coverage in the state since April 2014.

Snyder strongly encouraged the Legislature to develop a bipartisan bill to create Medicaid expansion plan that would also influence enrollees to pursue healthier lifestyles. The Legislature passed the Healthy Michigan Plan in September 2013, and Snyder signed it shortly thereafter.

At that time, the plan was expected to save the state more than $1 billion in Medicaid costs over the ensuing decade and provide healthcare coverage to more than 470,000 Michigan residents. At the end of May 2018, nearly 700,000 residents were enrolled in the program. With this coverage, many who had previously received care only in hospital emergency departments now have access to primary and preventive care.

As the possibility of repealing the Affordable Care Act was discussed in 2017, Snyder worked with Congress, explaining that Michigan did more than expand Medicaid to provide coverage for those who earn from 100 percent to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. The plan also includes requirements supporting health and wellness and personal responsibility by incorporating contributions and co-pays that can be reduced through healthy behaviors. Evidence had shown that the number of uninsured people seeking care in emergency departments dropped under the program, and Snyder suggested that the clearly successful Healthy Michigan Plan be used as a national model.

Snyder also worked with legislators to ensure the continuation and sustainability of the Healthy Michigan program as they passed a bill that requires Healthy Michigan Plan enrollees to work to keep their benefits beginning Jan. 1, 2020. 

“Without Gov. Snyder’s significant efforts, the Healthy Michigan Plan would likely not be available today, and nearly 700,000 Michiganders would not have the means to obtain the acute and preventive healthcare they need,” said MHA CEO Brian Peters.


  • Michigan Health & Hospital Association Recognizes Healthcare Champions

Tags: Snyder, Seaman, annual meeting, Meritorious Service, Special Recognition, Breon, Casalou

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