The American Hospital Association recently unveiled an initiative designed to engage members — and the broader hospital family — in a multifaceted effort to ensure that lawmakers and other key stakeholders understand the immediate challenges facing the hospital field.

Our country is facing what many call a "fiscal cliff." Congress, regardless of which party holds power after the November election, must find a way to work together to tackle our nation's fiscal problems. Failure to act on these pressing issues will have serious consequences for the health care field.

As a hospital trustee, it's critical to understand the issues, what's at stake, and the potential impact on your hospital's ability to continue to serve your patients and community. Cutting payments to providers for Medicare and Medicaid services will make it more difficult to ensure access to care for these patients. It will lead to longer wait times for care; fewer doctors, nurses and other caregivers; and less patient access to the latest treatments and technology. That is why you must speak up now — loudly and often. Without your input, legislators will default to the easiest path — arbitrary payment cuts to providers — instead of offering real solutions to the fiscal problems our nation faces.

AHA is asking hospital leaders to take the lead on laying the foundation with their legislators — and potential legislators — through an initiative called "We Care, We Vote."

AHA has created a toolkit hospital leaders can use to engage the extended hospital family to ensure they understand:

  • the magnitude of the challenges that hospitals face;
  • what hospitals are doing to increase value; and
  • what public policy changes are needed and what should be avoided.

The toolkit also includes resources to encourage employees to register and vote; engage elected officials and candidates for office to gauge their positions and educate them on the challenges ahead; and enhance interactions with lawmakers.
Visit to learn more. You may be able to play a crucial role in some, or all, of these activities.

Please work with your CEO to determine what part you can play.

Kimberly McNally, R.N., M.N. (, is COG chair and a trustee of Harborview Medical Center/UW Medicine in Seattle.