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C. Duane Dauner, former California Hospital Association CEO, dies in car crash

Dauner helmed the CHA for more than three decades and was instrumental in developing the Affordable Care Act.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

C. Duane Dauner (California Hospital Association)C. Duane Dauner (California Hospital Association)

The healthcare community is mourning the loss of C. Duane Dauner, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association for three decades before his retirement in 2017, who died in a car crash on Monday at the age of 80.

According to Desert Sun, Duaner was driving eastbound along Highway 74 South of Palm Desert when the 1957 Ford he was driving veered off the edge of the highway. Officers who were dispatched to the scene found the vehicle overturned down a steep embankment for "unknown reasons." Duaner was not wearing a seatbelt and died at the scene.

Dauner helmed the CHA, which represents about 400 hospitals and health systems, from 1985 to 2017. Before that, he served as president and CEO of the Missouri Hospital Association from 1975-1985, and was CEO of the Kansas Hospital Association from 1965 to 1975.

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An obituary posted by the American Hospital Association described Dauner as a "consensus builder" who played a pivotal role in the development of the Affordable Care Act. He also took part in the development of the California Medicaid reform policy option, and helped to build an agreement between CHA and the state's three regional hospital associations.

In 2018, he received AHA's Distinguished Service Award "for his dedication to the health and well-being of all Americans and the establishment of a high-quality, efficient, patient- and community-centric hospital field."

His involvement with the AHA dates back to 1979, when he served on the Council on Federal Relations and then the AHA General Council. Throughout his tenure he served on numerous committees and task forces.

The AHA credited Dauner's leadership with improving care quality for patients in California's hospitals, as well as a slow rate of health expenditure growth. In 2013, CHA and its affiliated regional associations created the statewide Hospital Quality Institute, the goa lof which is to advance the state as a national leader in safety and quality improvement.

In addition to the CHA and various other state hospital associations, he served on numerous AHA and American College of Healthcare Executives boards and committees, including the board of the Coalition to Protect America's Health Care. He was a recipient of the Gold Medal Award, the ACHE's highest honor, as well as awards from the Partners in Care Foundation, National Health Foundation, UCLA and Health Care Executives of Southern California.

Dauner is survived by his wife, Diane, a son and daughter, and several grandchildren.


"California's hospitals have lost a true champion with the tragic and untimely passing of C. Duane Dauner," said CHA President and CEO Carmela Coyle. "For more than three decades, Duane steered California's hospitals through some of the most pivotal moments in our state's health care evolution.

"Duane's unwavering dedication to hospitals was in his DNA," she said. "Even in retirement, he chose to spend his time serving on the boards of several hospital systems across the state. For those of us who had the good fortune to know and work with Duane, he will always be remembered as a kind and thoughtful person who never failed to ask about your family, and always remembered the smallest details."

"Few people have done as much as Duane Dauner in helping hospitals and health systems carry out their sacred mission in caring for patients and the communities they serve," said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. "And, few people have helped mentor and develop the next generation of healthcare leaders, including me, as Duane has done."

Twitter: @JELagasse
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