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

AHA Logo (March 15, 2019) – This week, I attended the American Hospital Association Regional Policy Board 6 meeting in Kansas City.

As is normal, the RPB agenda was full of many important discussions. We heard about the many issues being discussed in Washington including drug pricing, Medicare for all and rural issues. With regard to rural issues specifically, there was discussion of the AHA advocacy agenda, which includes broadband, telehealth, direct supervision and new/alternative models of care. There was a sense on the part of the AHA staff that it may be possible this year for the Senate Finance Committee, on which Sen. Pat Roberts serves, to create a rural package with some of these items included. We also discussed the landscape for the 2020 elections, both on the presidential and congressional level.

We briefly discuss the 340B program and its importance to hospitals across the region. In that regard, we are continuing to encourage hospitals to join onto the AHA 340B Good Stewardship Principles. This is a proactive, positive effort to get in front of a potential future legislative/regulatory problem. If you haven't signed on, please consider doing so today!

Another important item on the RPB meeting agenda was a goal of achieving universal coverage. While there are still nearly 30 million uninsured in our country, some ideas that have surfaced, like Medicare for All, are problematic to say the least. Ideas discussed included supporting Medicaid expansion in non-expansion states; exploring options building on the current marketplaces; and promoting employer coverage.

Other items on the RPB agenda included:

  • Combining hospital quality incentive programs. For example, the Centers for Medicare & Mediaid Services' hospital quality reporting programs began with only 10 measures, but the number quickly exploded, reaching a high of 94 measures in 2016 rulemaking.
  • Protecting patients from surprise medical billing. AHA, through the work of its Price Transparency Task Force, is positioning itself to be in front of the issue and is working to help shape a solution.
  • Reducing maternal morbidity and mortality. With the maternal mortality rate increasing in the United States, it is time to set a goal of eliminating maternal morbidity and mortality related to childbirth.

We are well represented on the AHA Regional Policy Board by Randy Peterson, president and CEO, Stormont Vail Health, Topeka; Carrie Saia, CEO, Holton Community Hospital, Holton; Jennifer Koontz, MD, clinic physician, Newton Medical Center, Newton; Shannon Flach, CEO, Kingman Community Hospital, Kingman; Kiley Floyd, CEO, Nemaha Valley Community Hospital, Seneca; and Benjamin Anderson, administrator and CEO, Kearney County Hospital, Lakin. Thanks to them for their leadership!
--Tom Bell