Mayo Clinic's CEO steps down - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Fanna Haile-Selassie

Mayo Clinic's CEO steps down

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Rochester, MN (KTTC-DT) --

In two days, the CEO of Mayo Clinic will step down. Wednesday morning, Dr. Denis Cortese gave his thoughts on the future of Mayo, health care reform, and his largest accomplishments.

"It feels good. It feels good to retire and move on to some bigger issues that I've developed a major interest in over the last 15 to 20 years. And it will give me a chance to concentrate on those."

After 40 years with Mayo Clinic, though, health care will always be a big issue for Dr. Denis Cortese. He started at Mayo as a medical student and ended up its CEO.

Cortese says one of his biggest accomplishments was getting the clinic to hone in on quality care and achieving good results. Now he says, it's time for the whole medical field to do the same.

"As a country, we haven't gotten in right in 30 years, and many of you have heard me say this before, but it's really because we're not addressing the right question. We're letting politics interfere with intelligent decision-making on how to take care of patients."

Cortese says Congress should look to reforming medicare first, because he says almost anything else won't make as big of an impact in the system. The problem, however, he say lawmakers have turned health care into a political issue instead of a scientific one.

As for Cortese's biggest regret, he says the Mayo board had the opportunity 15 years ago to make a change in the insurance industry.

"We see the future better than we saw it 15 years ago, and one of the issues is the insurance aspect of things. So, I've challenged our group to think about that Mayo has to start its own insurance company or create some kind of insurance product."

After stepping down, Cortese won't be slowing down. He will head to Arizona State University to continue working in the health care reform effort as the director of its health care delivery and policy center.

Dr. John Noseworthy will take Cortese's position as Mayo's CEO. The two have been working together for several months to make the transition go smoothly.

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