A new year and a new Congress always bring new challenges and opportunities. But one thing hasn’t changed: the American Hospital Association’s resolve on behalf of our nation’s hospitals.
The shift in the Senate does not alter the AHA’s advocacy agenda, which has gained strong bipartisan support in both chambers. Specifically, we’ll continue pushing for action on reining in overly zealous recovery audit contractors; reducing cuts to the Medicare disproportionate share hospital program; fixing the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program; extending flexibility for hospitals’ implementing electronic health records; halting burdensome regulatory policies; and extending vital rural programs like the low-volume adjustment and Medicare-dependent hospital program. We also will continue to oppose any potential cuts in funding for hospital services. Since 2010, hospital payments have been slashed by more than $120 billion. Hospitals cannot continue to do more with less, particularly as they face emerging challenges like Ebola.
It’s a full agenda and I encourage you to become involved. As a trustee, you are in the best position to help policymakers understand all that your hospital does for the community and the challenges that it faces in striving to continue to deliver much-needed services. In addition, all current or former hospital trustees are encouraged to participate in the AHA Trustee Leadership Network. It provides information, resources and activities for trustees who are committed to advancing the health of individuals and communities, and supporting their local hospital’s work through advocacy activities.
If you are interested in participating in the AHA’s policy development process, I invite you to apply to join one of AHA’s committees, which are currently accepting nominations for 2016. The Committee on Governance, the AHA’s leading trustee involvement group, spearheads grassroots advocacy and provides input into policy development. Members serve three-year terms, attend three meetings annually and must be associated with an AHA-member hospital or system throughout the length of their terms. AHA’s regional policy boards are one of the primary lines of communication between the AHA and its members. Members provide input on policy issues, serve as ad hoc development committee members when appropriate, and help to identify challenges unique to each region and assist in developing solutions. Interested trustees are invited to view the Call for Nominations and submit an application through Feb. 25. For more information, visit www.aha.org/trusteeopportunities or contact Rita Harmata, director of trustee and community leadership, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (312) 422-3311.
Fred Gattas Jr. (email@example.com), is COG chair and a trustee of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.