Healthcare and Private Equity: Insights into Conferences and Economic Trends

Scott Becker, Founder of Becker’s Healthcare and partner of the McGuireWoods Law Healthcare Department

Healthcare and Private Equity: Insights into Conferences and Economic Trends

Let’s explore private equity matters, healthcare podcasts, and economic trends!

In this episode, Scott Becker, founder of Becker’s Healthcare and partner of the McGuireWoods Law Healthcare Department, discusses various subjects such as upcoming events, private equity in healthcare, podcasts, and economic concerns. He shares his extensive experience at the intersection of healthcare and private equity, mentioning his law firm’s involvement and annual conference in this field. Scott shares some of the podcasts he works in, their content, and some current economic concerns, like Michael Burry’s prediction of a potential economic collapse. He also delves into factors like real estate debt, credit card debt, retail challenges, and recent layoffs while examining the challenges faced by the Federal Reserve in managing inflation and broader economic implications.

Tune in and learn more about Scott Becker’s healthcare and private equity work and his economic concerns!

Healthcare and Private Equity: Insights into Conferences and Economic Trends

About Scott Becker:

Scott is the founder and publisher of Becker’s Hospital Review and Becker’s Healthcare. He represents hospitals and health systems, healthcare companies, surgery center chains, large practices, and private equity funds. Mr. Becker is the publisher of Becker’s Healthcare’s portfolio of publications.

Scott Becker is a partner in the healthcare department at McGuireWoods. As a partner at McGuireWoods in Chicago, he provides counsel to hospitals, ASCs, surgical hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, single- and multi-specialty medical practices, and a variety of healthcare industry entrepreneurs. He previously served on the Board of Partners of the firm and chaired the healthcare department for nearly 13 years.

Mr. Becker received his JD from Harvard Law School and his BS in finance and accounting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


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Saul Marquez:
Hey, everybody! Saul Marquez with the Outcomes Rocket. I want to welcome you back to the podcast. Today, I have a very special guest, no stranger to anyone listening, Scott Becker. For those that may need an introduction, I’d be shocked if you do, but if you need it, he is a partner at McGuireWoods law firm, as well as founder of Becker’s Healthcare, many of us attend the event every year. And by the way, guys, Scott’s one of the people that I talked to when I first kicked off the podcast. He says, you got to do it, and now we’re all in on this. So, big warm welcome for Scott Becker on the podcast. Scott, thanks for joining me today.

Scott Becker:
Well, Saul, it’s great to be with you. You know, there’s so many jokes like Better Call Saul and all that kind of stuff, but I’ll go deeper than that. Saul is one of the great professionals that I know, just a magnificent person, and getting a chance to visit with you is just a great pleasure, Saul, so thank you so much for having me. A magnificent story in your own right, and a pleasure to visit with you always. Thank you very much.

Saul Marquez:
Thank you, Scott. We learned a lot from the work that you and the team at Becker’s Healthcare do. This idea of, educate but also entertain is a big part of what we like to do. And so, why don’t you tell us what you guys got going on at Becker’s lately that might interest some of the people listening?

Scott Becker:
Well, sure, thank you so much. So Becker’s Health, we’ve got three big conferences this fall. We have our CEO-CFO roundtable this November. And I don’t want to turn this into an infomercial, but I’ll quickly go through these three things.

Saul Marquez:
No, please, we want to know about it.

Scott Becker:
We’ve got it; October 26th to 28th is our Ambulatory Surgery Center Conference: Business and Operations. The Surgery Center’s net conference is literally in its 30th year, and then, we have our Health IT and Digital Health and Revenue Cycle meeting, which is a very large meeting in October, 3rd to 6th. Well, all the meetings are in Chicago, which is historic, where they all were founded, and where we hold them all. A lot of our teams in Chicago, and it’s a relatively central place for people to travel to, So we’ve had lots of efficiencies of being in one city for good or for bad, but we’ve got three big conferences this fall and then a full slate, of course, of digital offerings, webinars, white papers, websites, all around healthcare, and so it’s been a great pleasure. We’ve got, I know, some fun speakers this fall. I know we’ve got President George Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, speaking at one of the meetings, and we’ve got a whole host of other great speakers. And always, a lot of fun to sort of just teach-entertain concept of entertaining speakers to go with people, hopefully learning a lot, and as important as anything is networking with their peers and learning from their peers, which is as good of learning as any, and hopefully, coming away a little inspired, a little bit ready to get back to the grind of driving whatever people are driving.

Saul Marquez:
I love that, Scott, and any other speakers that you could announce or?

Scott Becker:
You know, we’ve got you know, it’s so funny because I don’t have, I know Mia Hamm, the great soccer player, is speaking. I know there’s, we’ve got a whole list of speakers this fall. I didn’t come prepared, so I don’t have it tip-of-tongue, but we’ve got a great lineup this fall of speakers of different entertaining and interesting speakers, and I just don’t have them, unfortunately.

Saul Marquez:
No problem.

Scott Becker:
Right, front, and center, but we do have a great lineup. I just didn’t like, and not, tip, the tip of my tongue.

Saul Marquez:
No problem. Hey, look, I always love when you announce who you’re going to have there because it’s always somebody super interesting, and you’re like, oh man, if you didn’t get your ticket then, when you make the speaker announcements, you’re like, I’m getting it now, and then you end up going. So certainly awesome job with the work that you do there. Now, you’re also doing some fascinating work around private equity and the private equity space. Do you care to speak to that?

Scott Becker:
Well, sure, so a long time ago, within the law firm of McGuireWoods, where I’m a partner and used to head up the healthcare department, did that for 12-plus years or so, plus served on our board of directors, the firm is, happens to be a huge firm, within the firm is a healthcare group and a private equity group. A very long time ago, I started working at that intersection of healthcare and private equity, which is a fascinating part of the law firm’s sort of work that we do. And really, if I go back to the healthcare group, traditionally, huge hospital, and health systems, and small hospitals, health systems, surgery centers, surgery center chains, a whole variety of different work within healthcare, plus representing private equity funds that have invested in healthcare; I’ve been doing it for 20 years or so. In the law firm environment, we also have a Healthcare Private Equity conference that’s in its 18th year, and so a lot of us spend time at that intersection of the two, it’s just another piece of the business and a fascinating area, not good and not bad. I mean, a lot of the private equity funds do a lot of good, a lot of them rely too much on debt, lots of pluses, lots of minuses, but really a really interesting practice area that allows us to see lots of different things in healthcare, and so we’ve enjoyed it tremendously. And I don’t really, I do a lot of work with our lawyers, and a lot of work with our clients. I don’t do much actual hardcore writing documents anymore, reviewing documents anymore, it’s somewhat of a younger person’s game or younger than myself, but people do it extremely well. And it’s really interesting work as to see where people are interested in, what sectors they’re investing in, where they’re not, what’s been having challenges, what’s not. I mean, it’s a fascinating sort of landscape, and so we enjoy it tremendously.

Saul Marquez:
That’s great. Well, Scott, I always enjoy visiting with you. You have several podcasts, so I want to give you a chance to plug them here, both healthcare and private equity. Do you want to share with the listeners what you’re up to on those?

Scott Becker:
Sure! So the BH head podcast is a podcast that we started years ago at Becker’s Healthcare, with probably 3 to 4 episodes are released a day, and it’s the Becker’s Healthcare podcast. And within the Becker’s Healthcare umbrella, we have a whole number of other podcasts in different specialty lines and niche lines. And that’s, again, both a labor of love and an important part of the Becker’s Healthcare business. We try and be very attractive to listeners, to have listeners listen in, and we try and feature terrific speakers, and healthcare executives, and healthcare leaders, and just quick thoughts on what they’re seeing in the market or their thoughts on leadership. So we usually episodes anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes, they’re largely relatively short episodes, some are longer. You know, we had the other day a fascinating healthcare professor of management and his perspectives on value-based care, and where it’s going, and what’s worked, what’s not worked, and just constantly getting a chance to speak to really interesting people. I talked yesterday with Beth, or two days ago, with Beth Walker, the CEO of Ochsner Baptist, talked a few days ago with, by chance, Baptist, Jacksonville, totally unrelated, Michael Mayo, who’s the CEO there. And just get a chance to talk constantly to real interesting people about what they’re seeing in healthcare and what they’re seeing in the landscape. So that’s the core of a lot of what I do. Secondly, we have a Private Equity and Business podcast which really touches on issues of the day in business. So just as an example, today, you’ve got some fascinating things going on. Peloton is down another 20-plus percent. Foot Locker is getting crushed. We look at in other things at business, the big retailers, Macy’s, Kohl’s, seeing significant declines in their sales and where they’re at. And those things sometimes foretell, challenges the economy as a whole, not just issues about those particular merchants or retailers. And when I look at that, Kohl’s and Macy’s aren’t maybe Nordstrom’s or Target or Walmart, but they’re good, good franchises, and it’s always a little scary to see. Macy’s reported credit card debt way up. People are getting much softer and spending on their credit cards because they’re so indebted as it is. The annual percentage rate I saw in one article, 32% of those credit cards. That’s a scary amount for families. If you’re borrowing to buy, that’s a scary thing. And Kohl’s also reported same-store sales down 5%. Those things all tell a story about where we’re going as an economy and stuff like that. And sometimes, the stock market is disconnected from that. Like in this case, certainly, Peloton went down a lot, Nike’s down some, Foot Locker’s down, Macy’s is down, but sometimes, the stock market is disconnected in who’s in these retailers who often leads to the … going to … from raising rates, which then gives more comfort to people investing in the stock market. So the whole thing is interconnected in a very complicated, not that complicated a way, but sometimes bad news is good news for the market, but it doesn’t mean companies are doing well. And so the whole fascinating set of sets, so, we follow the business world very closely, we follow the healthcare world very closely, and those are sort of the two worlds we spend a lot of time in, and we find it fascinating.

Saul Marquez:
No, it is. What do you think? You know, most recently, I’m blanking on the guy’s name, but literally, like a week or two ago, the Big Short guy.

Scott Becker:
Oh, sure, Michael Burry.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, Michael Burry, he made a prediction that we’re about to go into a major collapse. What do you think about that?

Scott Becker:
Well, it’s, who knows? None of us really know, and the advice that I give to people is you need sort of a market allocation that you could live with in good times and bad times. So it’s that like, I’m not heavily, that heavily invested in the stock market, so when the market goes down, I don’t feel that bad. The flip side is when it goes up like it’s going up today, I don’t feel that good. I prefer to go up, but the allocation and how you allocate your assets is you try and develop wealth and try and put money away is so, so important. To Michael Burry’s point, here are the big concerns. The big concern is, you got two big concerns in my mind at least, and this is aside from international concerns like the Chinese economy. China’s economy, being very hard to clarify what’s going on there, they’ve got hugely high unemployment. Unemployment is so high for the 16 to 24-year-old category that when it got to 21%, they stopped reporting on it. I mean, that’s sort of how bad some challenges are in China. And think about 21% unemployment, that’s a scary number. That’s a scary number.

Saul Marquez:
Very scary.

Scott Becker:
The other thing that’s scary in China that relates directly to … we have here is China, at least by all accounts, and this is not to demonize China, my view of the world is we need very much a much more constructive leadership, whether it’s Republicans or Democrats, that are completely engaged with the world. There’s no way around it. We’re in a very engaged, interconnected world. Some countries may be adversaries, some may be allies, but one way or another, really across the board, we got to figure out how to engage with the world. So, this is not a comment to demonize China. What China has done is they’ve artificially inflated their economy for a very long period of time, so you can’t trust their growth numbers. What they’re finding is they’ve got this huge amount of real estate that was built with that, and the real estate, you know, there will be cities that are basically unoccupied cities pumped up numbers of growth, but the growth is fake. It’s almost like in our country when we deficit spend, and we still have GDP growth, well, it’s not really real growth because we’re borrowing for artificial growth. And so when you listen to Michael Burry, and his perspective on this is, we’ve got this multi-trillion dollar amount of real estate debt, much of which is in buildings that now post-pandemic are not nearly as occupied as they were. And so that if our US economy is 24 to 28 trillion, a few trillion dollars in debt, that it’s not that it’s all going to fail, but there’s lots of challenges in that underlying debt. And the other thing that we’re seeing that gives me great concern is there is a good deal of layoffs going on, many of those are what I call stealth layoffs, but you’ve got two kinds of layoffs. You’ve got one kind of layoff where companies are outwardly announcing those layoffs because they’re trying to get credit from Wall Street for trying to be more efficient. So you get like Amazon makes a big splash of laying off 10,000 people, but it’s almost irrelevant. It’s almost, it’s not irrelevant to the people that are losing their jobs, but many people aren’t really losing their jobs, not filling jobs; but it’s Amazon’s signal to the street that they’re going to get more profitable. It’s not necessarily, that doesn’t really so much scare me when you’re laying off 10,000 of 1.5 million people or some insane number. But what I do see day to day, and this is where you see pain, every day, I see a small company, a large company laying people off and sometimes doing it sort of quietly, but you start to hear from people again, and we’ve all been through cycles like this, where people call and say, hey, I’m looking for a job, or, hey, I’m a new graduate, I need a job. And this is a very scary situation because most people, they’re not sitting on huge emergency funds, they’re not sitting on huge savings, they are sitting on big credit card debt. Credit card debts for the first time ever has passed $1 trillion. Most of that credit card debt is at 18-20%, but that’s $200 billion a year that people can’t spend on other stuff because they just have to service their bank’s interest. And then you’ve got a similar situation with home equity debt and some of this retail debt as we just talked about. Macy’s, the annual percentage rate on some of these things is 30%-plus. So you’ve got a number of things that Michael Burry talks about, whether he’s right or wrong, whether we’re going to see a big crash or not, I don’t know. I saw recently an article where people were criticizing, like Yahoo! Finance ran an article today, and I’ll try and stay on point here, but I think this is relevant, where all of the Republican front runners were criticizing Jerome Powell, the Fed chairman, all saying that he shouldn’t be reappointed. And to me, Jerome Powell is one of the sane adults in the room who is a moderate, who is a very, very bright person, who’s doing his best to fight inflation at a time when Congress makes it almost impossible to do so, because if you’re running $1 trillion deficit; that itself accounts for 3% inflation a year, some number like that, 1 trillion out of 28 trillion. So you’ve got a guy who’s fighting inflation with 1 or 2 hands behind his back, and instead of the Republican primary candidates talking about deficit spending, which they should be talking about, they’re talking about Jerome Powell, he might have let rates stay low for too long in fighting the pandemic. People say maybe he’s bringing up too quickly now, but he’s got one tool to fight inflation. One tool and when you’ve got this deficit spending going on, to the extent we do, sooner or later, that catches up. We always use the phrase, debt kills families, countries, and companies. We think that’s true, and so we think there’s lots of challenges in the problems, I don’t know if Michael Burry’s hit this right, I just don’t know, I hope he’s wrong, quite frankly, but there’s a lot of challenges out there in the economy.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. Now, listen, I’m with you, I agree. I think there are a lot of challenges. We have to keep our eyes open, we have to stay informed. I think, Scott, you’re a great example of staying informed. I think I’ve told you, right? One of the things I’m always impressed with is like your response time. You always get a like a quick reply from you; the way you do it, I don’t know, on top of staying on top of everything you do, so. I definitely appreciate your perspective here on the podcast today, folks. Make sure you check out the show notes because we’ll be including links to all the different things that Scott mentioned: his two main podcasts, as well as the sub podcasts on there, and then links to his meetings. Appreciate you jumping on with us, was really a pleasure connecting with you.

Scott Becker:
Saul, anytime. And, of course, anybody that’d like to find me on LinkedIn or anyplace else, would love to visit. And Saul you are magnificent, just so impressed with what you’ve grown and what you’ve done, and I love visiting with you, you just do a fantastic job. One of the best interviewers I know, just really amazing at it.

Saul Marquez:
My friend, I appreciate it. Scott, stay in touch.

Scott Becker:
Saul, thank you so much.

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Things You’ll Learn:

  • Becker’s Healthcare is organizing three significant conferences this fall: the CEO-CFO roundtable, the Ambulatory Surgery Center Conference, and the Health IT and Digital Health and Revenue Cycle meeting.
  • Diversification of investment portfolios is crucial amid economic uncertainties, with a well-allocated portfolio aligned to individual risk tolerance.
  • Becker’s conferences and podcasts contribute to personal and professional growth, offering engagement with industry leaders, insights, and trends.
  • Credit card debt has exceeded a staggering $1 trillion, a considerable portion of which carries high-interest rates.
  • Established retailers like Macy’s and Kohl’s are grappling with substantial sales declines, potentially reflecting broader economic challenges.
  • China’s unemployment crisis is particularly pronounced among the younger population, with the unemployment rate for individuals aged 16 to 24 reaching a reported 21%.
  • Michael Burry’s predictions about a potential economic collapse raise concerns about uncertain economic prospects.
  • Deficit spending contributes to inflation challenges, putting pressure on the Federal Reserve’s efforts to maintain economic stability.


  • Connect with and follow Scott Becker on LinkedIn.
  • Follow Becker’s Healthcare on LinkedIn.
  • Discover the Becker’s Healthcare Website!
  • Follow McGuireWoods on LinkedIn.
  • Explore the McGuireWoods Website!
  • Reach out to Scott Becker at sbecker@beckershealthcare.com
  • Learn more about Becker Healthcare’s 11th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable here!
  • Learn more about Becker Healthcare’s 29th Annual Ambulatory Surgery Center Meeting centered on Business and Operations here!
  • Learn more about Becker Healthcare’s 8th Annual Health IT, Digital Health, and Revenue Cycle Meeting centered on The Future of Business and Clinical Technologies here!
  • Learn more about McGuireWoods’ upcoming 20th Annual Healthcare Private Equity and Finance Conference here!
  • Listen to the Becker’s Healthcare head podcast here!
  • Listen to the Becker Private Equity & Business Podcast here!
  • Check out the rest of Becker’s Healthcare podcasts here!