(Oct. 7, 2022) – Last week, I had the opportunity to join several Kansas Hospital Association members to participate in the American Hospital Association's Regional Policy Board meeting for AHA Region 6. The meeting, which included hospital representatives from Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota, included several timely topics that allowed for thorough and thoughtful discussion. As with each of these meetings, the AHA team did a tremendous job preparing and facilitating the meeting.
To begin 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. Priority issues being advocated by AHA include: safeguarding the 340B Drug Discount Program, protecting health care workers from workplace violence and promoting fair reimbursement to the hospital community. We also dedicated time to discussing the numerous regulatory proposals and their impact on the hospital community, including the Inpatient and Outpatient Prospective Payment Rules and the Physician Fee Schedule. While AHA does a tremendous 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 these public policies will have on your hospital and the communities you serve. This is especially important now as many policymakers are spending considerable time visiting with constituents in their districts before the Nov. 8 elections.
In addition to the advocacy update, the RPB meeting focused on several weighty topics:
- Hospital financial sustainability
- Helping patients understand and manage the cost of care
- Workforce – looking toward the future
- Local advocacy efforts to engage key stakeholders
- Medicare Advantage.
A good portion of the agenda was dedicated to large group and breakout discussions regarding the financial sustainability of hospitals. It was reiterated that hospital and health system finances are in a precarious state. Skyrocketing expenses for labor, supplies and prescription drugs have been outpacing the slow recovery of hospital volumes and revenue. AHA recently shared an analysis conducted by Kaufman, Hall & Associates that projects that more than half of the hospitals in the U.S. will see negative operating margins in 2022. In response to these troubling trends, RPB members weighed in on potential legislative and regulatory solutions that could provide financial relief to the industry, including temporary Medicare payment adjustments and regulatory relief from insurance carriers.
There also was a thorough and timely discussion regarding workforce-related issues. AHA continues to build upon its "framework for action" that categorizes workforce solutions into "now, near and far" buckets. Many of the ideas and approaches are aligned with KHA's strategic priorities on the workforce. Several RPB members commented on the need to not only attract the next generation of health care workers but to develop mentoring and leadership programs to support their workforce.
Kansas hospitals were well-represented at the RPB meeting by Carrie Saia, Holton Community Hospital, Holton; Melissa Atkins, Graham County Hospital, Hill City; Bobby Olm-Shipman, Saint Luke's South Hospital, Overland Park; Bobbi Ambrosio, Holton Community Hospital, Holton; and Sherri Vaughn, MD, The University of Kansas Health System, Kansas City. I would like to extend a special thanks to these hospital leaders for their participation and leadership!
By the way, you may have noticed several of the areas discussed at the AHA RPB meeting are similar to the topics we have planned for the KHA District Meetings. While we are at the half-way point of this round of meetings, we would encourage you to consider joining us next week as we travel to Hays (Oct. 12), Lakin (Oct. 13) and Wichita (Oct. 14) … or consider joining us for our virtual KHA District Meeting on Oct. 18. Register online. We hope to see you there!