Perspective: Speaking with one voice to advocate for strong hospitals and healthy communities

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Hospital and health system leaders from across the country next weekend will begin arriving in Washington, D.C. for the 2022 AHA Annual Membership Meeting.

We’ve built a program highlighted by nationally recognized speakers – from both sides of the policy aisle – and special forums that bring together strategic insights and relevant research with thought leaders driving policy on the biggest problems affecting our domain.

From the administration, we’ll get a glimpse of Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra; U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy, MD.; Administrator of Medicare and Medicaid Service Centers Chiquita Brooks-LaSure; Anthony Fauci, MD, Chief Medical Advisor to the President; and Deputy FBI Director Paul Abbot.

We’ll have a bipartisan read on Capitol Hill dynamics from Sset Joe Manchin DW.Vaand Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; as well as Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio. Among the media, Margaret Brennan, host of CBS News‘ “Face the Nation,” and Eugene Robinson, columnist at The Washington Post, will be on hand to interpret the current political environment and the dynamics of the midterm elections.

Lee Fleisher, MD, which oversees clinical, quality and safety standards for healthcare facilities and CMS providers, will moderate a panel on preparedness; and we will hear Andy Slavitformer Senior Advisor to President Biden’s White House Pandemic Response Team, as part of a panel on lessons learned and innovations that are here to stay from our COVID-19 experience.

In addition, the former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who is also a former director of the CIA, will offer his global perspective; and presidential historian and bestselling author Michel Beschloss will share the historical context of today’s political landscape.

In addition to the list of outstanding speakers, the Annual Membership Meeting is also an opportunity for our field to deliver a unified message to Congress on our top advocacy priorities.

As you know, Congress left town last week without addressing any of the issues critical to dealing with COVID-19. This means they will resume discussions on COVID-19 relief when they return to Washington on April 25, giving us an important opening to get our priorities straight in the mix of this package or other legislation that Congress may adopt before focusing its attention on the mid-term elections.

Our key messages to legislators will be:

Support ongoing efforts to defeat COVID-19 ensuring hospitals and health systems have the resources they need to care for their communities during the ongoing pandemic and adequately prepare for future public health crises. Among other efforts, these include relief from Medicare escrow reductions; replenish the supplier relief fund; providing flexibility on accelerated and prepaid Medicare reimbursements; and the extension or creation of permanent critical waivers that have improved patient care.

Strengthen the health workforce by adopting policies to meet the urgent needs of our workforce, prepare it for tomorrow and build a pipeline for the future to ensure access to care in our communities.

And make sure the hospitals are always there to treat rejecting proposals that would reduce already limited hospital resources threatening access to care, as well as supporting policies that would promote access to care and coverage and improve quality and equity.

We will provide more detail, context and key messages on these issues at the AHA’s annual membership meeting. April 24-26.

You can still plan to join us in Washington if you haven’t already by registering here. And if you can’t join us in person this year, you can make a difference by delivering these important messages to your legislators.

Last week, we released an AHA Action Alert with key messages about additional COVID-19 help you could pass on to your lawmakers while they’re at home in their districts and states this week and the next week. We’ve also made it easy for you — or your family, friends, neighbors, or colleagues — to send a message to lawmakers. You can share this link with sample messages that can be personalized with specific information about why your hospital needs additional support.

We have seen time and time again that our field speaks with a strong, united and collective voice – policy makers and legislators hear us. And we are getting results.

Let’s make it happen again to make sure our hospitals are strong and our communities healthy.

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