UK Medical Center Founder Dies

Contact: Mary Margaret Colliver

Photo of Howard L. Bost
Howard L. Bost


Bost’s lifelong mission was the provision of health care to the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the nation. Following his stint in the Navy, Bost joined the staff of United Auto Workers and was involved in the first negotiation of labor contracts offering health and retirement benefits for 3.5 million workers and their families.


LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 18, 2005) -- Howard L. Bost, 87, a native of Mulberry, Ark., and one of the founders who helped plan and create the University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Medical Center that opened in 1960, died March 14 at UK Hospital.

Bost was preceded in death by his wife of 55 years, Helen Louise Tindal Bost. He is survived by his daughter, Cynthia L. Bost, of Mt. Vernon, Wash.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, March 21, at Second Presbyterian Church in Lexington. Visitation will be at the church from 9 a.m. until time of the service.

Memorial contributions may be directed to Meals on Wheels at Second Presbyterian Church, 460 East Main St., Lexington, Ky. 40508, or the Howard L. Bost Memorial Fund, UK College of Medicine Development Office, 939 S. Limestone, Lexington, Ky. 40503-0306.

“When he came to Lexington in 1956 as a member of the five person planning staff for the new University Medical Center, Howard Bost brought indefatigable energy, the unique perspective of a medical economist, and rare wisdom and judgment,” said Robert Straus, professor emeritus of behavioral science in the UK College of Medicine, and one of the founders of the UK Chandler Medical Center. “He was my close friend and valued colleague for 50 years and even in his final illness he continued to provide wise counsel for health planners.”

Bost received a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas in 1940, and then served as an officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II from 1942 to 1946. He received a Master of Arts in economics from the University of Michigan in 1947, and attended the University of Michigan School of Public Health, earning the nation’s first doctorate in medical economics in 1955.

Bost’s lifelong mission was the provision of health care to the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the nation. Following his stint in the Navy, Bost joined the staff of United Auto Workers and was involved in the first negotiation of labor contracts offering health and retirement benefits for 3.5 million workers and their families. 

Bost came to the University of Kentucky from the State University of New York College of Medicine at Syracuse.

Once in Kentucky, Bost staffed a Kentucky Governor’s Study Commission on Health Care for the Indigent that resulted in the 1960 passage of legislation creating a program of medical assistance, now known as the Medicaid program.

In 1963, Bost worked with Sen. Jacob Javits of New York and served as principal staff and executive director of the National Committee on Health Care of the Aged. The committee’s report was presented to President John F. Kennedy, subsequently resulting in the creation of the Medicare program, providing universal medical benefits to the aged in the United States. 

Following the enactment of Medicare legislation, Bost took a leave of absence from UK and served as the first deputy director of the Bureau of Health Services in the Social Security Administration, where he was responsible for implementing Medicare. Social Security Commissioner Robert Ball said Bost was selected for this role because the job called for an unusual combination of knowledge, skill, and experience that few possessed. Ball further stated that a considerable part of the success of he Medicare program was traced to Bost’s efforts. Bost received numerous recognitions for his work, including a letter of commendation from President Lyndon Johnson and the Social Security Commissioner Award.  

Upon his return to the University of Kentucky, Bost was instrumental in the creation of its employee retirement plan, and held the position of assistant vice president for Program and Policy Planning. In 1970, Gov. Louie Nunn appointed him as chair of the Advisory Council on Medical Assistance. Bost served as executive director of the Southeast Kentucky Health Demonstration Project providing emergency, primary and long-term care programs, as well as other initiatives in Eastern Kentucky. Bost also served as the first chairman of the Kentucky Certificate of Need Board and as a member of the Kentucky Blue Cross/Blue Shield Board.

One of Bost’s major commitments was his role in the creation of the Appalachian Regional Hospitals, now known as Appalachian Regional Healthcare. In 1962, the United Mine Workers Union announced that it would close its 10 hospitals in rural Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia due to mounting debts. Bost worked with the United Presbyterian Church to form a new and independent not-for-profit corporation to maintain service in these rural communities. He served as the ARH chairman of the board for many years. ARH continues today, seeking innovative ways to provide the citizens of Central Appalachia quality health care services.

In 1969, Bost predicted that the $50 billion allocated for health care in the United States would double by 1975, and he advocated increased use of ambulatory and home care to get more mileage out of the funds used for health care.

"Howard Bost’s outstanding leadership in health science education and health care policy was known and appreciated throughout the country," said Dr. Peter P. Bosomworth, chancellor emeritus for the UK Chandler Medical Center. "He spent a year in Washington during the Kennedy administration and wrote the regulations for Medicare, which stood unchanged for more than 20 years. He was a leader in developing the Medicaid program in Kentucky. He was of tremendous help to me in the administration and planning for the Medical Center.”

Upon his retirement from UK, Bost’s family established the Howard L. Bost Health Services Management Award. Now in its 23 rd year, the annual award has been renamed the Howard L. Bost Health Administration Award in the UK College of Public Health. The award recognizes the graduating Master in Public Health student who exhibits the greatest potential for professional contributions.

Bost was recognized with numerous honors, including an award of merit from the Kentucky Hospital Association, and recently was one of the first to be inducted into the UK College of Public Health Hall of Fame. He also served as a founding director for the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and remained on its board until his death.

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