In the midst of tremendous change happening in health care, “we have the opportunity – perhaps the opportunity of a lifetime – to shape the future of our field, to create a healthier tomorrow so that our families, friends and neighbors receive the best care,” AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack said today kicking of the AHA Annual Meeting Federal Forum plenary.
 
He talked about a health care system: where care is driven by what’s needed, not by how it’s paid for; that delivers superb clinical outcomes and focuses on promoting wellness; and where care is convenient and allows individuals to not leave their homes, whenever possible, to receive care, among other areas. 
 
In order to do this, Pollack said, “We need public policy that supports what we’re doing.” He discussed two issues getting the most attention right now – reducing costs and expanding coverage.
 
Pollack said that reducing costs means increasing affordability and value, and one of the strategies to do this is creating “organized systems of care,” which sometimes may involve mergers, acquisitions and alliances.
 
He said this is being done because it helps drive quality improvements; provides more scale to take on the financial risk of transitioning to value-based payment; makes it possible to raise capital and compete with well-funded new entrants to the field; and ensures doors remain open to all individuals in every community.
 
Pollack also spoke about how the different “Medicare for All” options could hurt hospitals and health systems’ ability to keep pace with the new life-saving advances in medicine; invest in new payment and delivery models; and innovate and transform to meet the future needs of patients.
 
Instead of Medicare for All, Pollack discussed the need to build on the Affordable Care Act by expanding Medicaid in non-expansion states; stabilizing the insurance exchanges or marketplaces by restoring cost-sharing subsidies for low-income consumers and implementing well-designed reinsurance programs; increasing subsidies to more lower-income people wanting to purchase private coverage on the exchanges; and funding efforts to help consumers enroll in health plans.
 
In addition, he outlined how hospitals and health systems are united around key policies. These include sustaining the gains in coverage and expanding them further; ensuring resources to safeguard access to care; creating transitions to innovative delivery and payment models; enhancing quality and patient safety; promoting regulatory relief and strengthening the workforce.
 
“Be certain, AHA – along with our state, regional and metropolitan association partners – will keep working to ensure that every hospital will have the opportunity to play a leadership role in their community as an access point or cornerstone of care,” Pollack said.
 

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