Current Report Articles
President's Perspective – AHA Regional Policy Board Recap

AHA Logo (June 17, 2022) – Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in the American Hospital Association's Regional Policy Board meeting for AHA Region 6, which includes Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota. The meeting agenda was filled with several weighty and timely issues. As is always the case, the AHA team preparing and facilitating the agenda did a tremendous job.

To kick off the meeting, the AHA leadership provided an advocacy update and offered insights into the current political environment and the latest policy issues being considered by our national leaders. The priority issues being advocated by AHA included delaying the Medicare sequestration, safeguarding the 340B drug discount program and protecting health care workers from workplace violence. While AHA does an impeccable job advocating in Washington, DC, they reiterated the importance of the hospital community joining in the advocacy efforts and sharing personal stories regarding the effect public policies have on your hospital and the communities you serve.

In addition to the advocacy update, the RPB meeting focused on several issues:

  1. Commercial Health Plan Accountability
  2. Hospital Commitment to Health Equity
  3. Hospital Financial Challenges
  4. AHA's Strategic Workforce Initiatives
  5. Unwinding the Public Health Emergency
  6. Mitigating Cybersecurity Risks

RPB members shared their experiences regarding the latest challenges associated with commercial health plans and the Medicare Advantage program. Two recent reports from the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General that delved into the Medicare Advantage program validated concerns raised by the hospital community. The findings suggested that Medicare Advantage plans inappropriately denied prior authorizations and had payment requests that were inconsistent with Medicare coverage rules. Specifically, the report highlighted that 13 percent of prior authorization denials and 18 percent of payment denials for Medicare Advantage enrollees should have been granted. RPB members weighed in on potential legislative policies that could increase Medicare Advantage oversight, including improving Medicare Advantage data and reporting, aligning traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage medical necessity criteria, and enforcing penalties for non-compliance. The discussion revealed shared frustrations by the hospital community and opportunities to standardize insurance policies to reduce administrative burdens.

There was a timely discussion regarding workforce-related issues, including the prevention of workplace violence. AHA prioritized the health care workforce challenges as one of their top strategic priorities and developed a draft framework that encompasses recruitment, retention, and educational pathway structures. Several of the focus areas align well with the KHA strategic priorities on workforce. Examples shared by the RPB members highlighted the creative approaches many hospitals have undertaken to attract and protect the next generation of health care workers.

Kansas hospitals were well-represented at this week's RPB meeting by Carrie Saia, Holton Community Hospital, Holton; Melissa Atkins, Graham County Hospital, Hill City; Bobby Olm-Shipman, Saint Luke’s South, Overland Park; Bobbi Ambrosio, Holton Community Hospital, Holton; and Dr. Sherri Vaughn, MD, The University of Kansas Health System, Kansas City. Thanks to these hospital leaders for their insight and guidance!
--Chad Austin