At an AHA virtual policy briefing today for congressional staff, hospital and health system leaders urged Congress to prioritize actions to address the rising costs of caring, workforce challenges and diminished Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, which have made 2022 the most difficult financial year for the hospital field since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The panelists each shared information about the communities they serve and the financial challenges they are experiencing.

Rex Budde, president and CEO of Southern Illinois Healthcare, said, “For the first six months of Fiscal Year 2023, SIH has lost $26 million from operations, and when combining investments, SIH has lost $114 million. Due to the financial challenges we are facing, the hospital field is already seeing layoffs, program closures and hospital closures. The end game of this trend is less services for our communities and fewer jobs for health care workers.”

Malisha S. Patel, senior vice president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Southwest and Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospitals, said, “We are still experiencing staffing challenges across the board, so we remain focused on creating new and different pathways to grow and develop our workforce, and on retaining our nurses. Survey after survey asks why nurses are leaving health care. Sadly, workplace violence is always one of the top reasons provided.”

Kate Walsh, president and CEO of Boston Medical Center Health System and a member of the AHA Board of Trustees, said, “I am incredibly proud of the great work our hospital did during COVID-19 surges; in addition to providing medical care to those in need, we made sure vaccines got to the most vulnerable patients. We are now managing the disease debt and capacity challenges as we learn to live with COVID-19, and it would be a cruel irony if the financial implications of those cumulative challenges made it impossible for us to be here for the communities we serve well into the future.”

For more on actions Congress can take to address the financial challenges jeopardizing access to care for hospital patients and communities, see yesterday’s AHA letter to congressional leaders and data brief

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