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Five years after graduating from high school in 1970, Rick Scott had already served 29 months of active duty in the Navy, graduated from college and turned a money-losing doughnut shop into a winner. Today, at 43, he has put together the largest U.S. hospital company, Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., which owns 341 hospitals in 38 states and posted revenues of $18 billion last year. Scott's credo is a classic: quality care doesn't have to come at a premium price. But it's the way Scott is accomplishing that goal that is transforming how American hospitals do business. In an industry notorious for waste and inefficiency, Scott aggressively consolidates operations and imposes cost controls. By creating an interlocking system of health-care delivery that offers everything from complex surgery to home therapy, Columbia has attracted business from the insurance companies that have in turn fostered the managed-care revolution.
Typical of Scott's style was his first foray into health care. In 1987 he and Richard Rainwater, a Fort Worth, Texas, billionaire, each invested $125,000 in a pair of struggling hospitals in El Paso, Texas. Then they acquired a neighboring hospital and shut it down. Within a year, the remaining two posted higher returns.
Columbia's size allows it to demand deep discounts from suppliers. The company's doctors, for example, have been encouraged to buy hospital gowns from a single source for a 20% saving. And according to Graef Crystal, who tracks CEO pay, Scott's 1995 salary of $858,000 was 20% less than the rate in his league (though his Columbia shares are worth $6.9 million). "You know if you've been in the hospital that you don't like the process," says Scott, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee. "We focus on how we can make it enjoyable. And we do it at a price, or a cost, that the American public can afford."
WYNTON MARSALIS Jazz Impresario
Wynton Marsalis is leading a revolution of tradition. While many of his contemporaries play bland but best-selling smooth jazz and jazz-fusion, Marsalis champions core values: master the instrument, study the greats such as Monk and Ellington and dress and comport yourself with the dignity the music deserves. Though the battle for the music's soul goes on, the success of other young jazz stars in the '90s, from saxophonist Joshua Redman to pianist Eric Reed, is proof of Marsalis' influence. "I've played 150 concerts a year for 15 years," he says. "It helped to rebuild the jazz audience. Younger musicians see you play, and they get inspired to practice. Older musicians, maybe their confidence has sagged a little, see the younger generation coming out, playing the music, and it gives them confidence. Just playing regenerates things."
Marsalis, 34, comes from a musical family and a musical city. His father Ellis is a pianist and educator; his elder brother Branford is a saxophonist; and one of his younger brothers, Delfeayo, is a trombone player. In New Orleans, a city as overflowing with jazz players as a bubbling pot of gumbo, Wynton was an early standout, a musical prodigy. As a teenager he played with drummer Art Blakey. Before Marsalis turned 22, he recorded a classical album that won a Grammy.