2011 AHA Advocacy Issue Papers
As a national dialog on addressing the federal deficit continues, health care and hospitals promise to remain in the headlines. Our job is to make sure that the patients who rely on our services take center stage. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle will need regular reminders that hospitals already face cuts resulting from health reform and state budget trimming, and those cuts can affect our ability to provide patient care. In the midst of these deliberations, the AHA is working with members to keep the hospital story front and center and to provide the tools members need to pursue excellence in quality and safety - all with the shared vision of a society of healthy communities, where all individuals reach their highest potential for health. Our advocacy efforts in 2011 fall into three general areas.
Health Care Delivery Transformation
America's hospitals are committed to creating better, safer, more efficient and affordable health care for a healthier America. The AHA is working to preserve what is good in health care reform, fix what is wrong, and advance the goals of Health for Life, the AHA's roadmap for improving the health care system: a focus on wellness; the most efficient, affordable care; the highest quality care; the best information; and coverage for all, paid for by all.
This year, the AHA will work to protect significant gains in coverage and funding for prevention and wellness initiatives that will, over time, not only reduce the cost of health care but help build healthier communities. We will continue to advocate for performance improvement and provide members with multiple forums to exchange information and best practices that will accelerate progress in quality and patient safety, including our Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence initiative. And we will continue to encourage the ongoing dialog on critical issues such as end-of-life care, health care disparities and spending variation.
We'll also fight for sensible medical liability reforms. The high costs associated with the current medical liability system not only harm hospitals and physicians, but also patients and their communities. Across the nation, physicians are moving away from states with high insurance costs or no longer provide services that may expose them to a greater risk of litigation, and this hurts patient access to health care. The increased costs that result from the current flawed medical liability system not only hinder access to affordable health care, they also threaten the stability of the hospital field.
Essential Resources for Patients and Communities
Organizations across the board have become accustomed to doing more with less, and hospitals are no exception. But without fair and equitable reimbursement, hospitals cannot provide the care that patients and communities need and continue to improve their performance.
In an environment of deficit reduction, Medicare and Medicaid funding will be under constant assault. The AHA will work to protect hospital payments during every step of the budget, appropriations and regulatory processes and to address expiring health care programs. We also will push to maintain graduate medical education funding and policies that help hospitals address workforce issues.
Roadblocks to Reducing Costs
Excessive regulations, outdated laws and a lack of clear federal guidance can combine to inhibit the innovation and cooperation essential to realizing the promise of better care delivery to which America's hospitals are committed. They also drain time, funding and attention that could more effectively be focused on patient care.
The AHA is working to reduce bureaucratic red tape and legal barriers impeding clinical integration by advocating for user-friendly antitrust guidelines and seeking to modernize laws and regulations to allow providers to work together more closely. In addition, we will seek to simplify the regulatory requirements for meaningful use of certified electronic health records.
The issues listed here and detailed in the following papers provide a roadmap for the AHA, its state, metropolitan and regional hospital association partners, and most importantly, AHA members, as we work together to pursue excellence with one vision, one voice.