More than 1,000 executive leaders from the nation’s top hospitals and health systems convened at the 2023 AHA Annual Membership Meeting, April 23-25 in Washington, D.C.
The health care workforce, 340B Drug Pricing Program and end of the COVID-19 public health emergency are at the forefront of AHA’s discussions with lawmakers, said Stacey Hughes, AHA's executive vice president of government relations and public policy, during the annual meeting opening plenary. Hughes discussed these and other key issues with Frank Sesno, former Washington bureau chief for CNN, during a wide-ranging conversation of what’s affecting hospitals and health systems on Capitol Hill and AHA’s advocacy agenda.
The discussion touched on the upcoming battle over the debt ceiling, the May 11 PHE end, preserving the 340B program, and workforce issues — including the necessity of passing the Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees (SAVE) Act, which would make violence against health care workers a federal crime.
“If we can get a groundswell of support for [the SAVE Act], I think we can get there,” she said. “This is the one area that is bipartisan. The seriousness of this issue has caught Congress’s attention — they know it’s happening in their backyard.”
The importance of the 340B Drug Pricing Program was a central point of discussion, with Hughes referring to the program as “a lifeline” that many would like to see reduced or eliminated. Hughes stressed the AHA’s commitment to the program and the vital aid it provides to hospitals and health systems across the country.
The end of the PHE will be the beginning of some major changes in health care. Though some elements of the PHE have been codified for another two years, such as the hospital-at-home and some telehealth programs, Hughes said, “We’re going to lose some of the flexibilities we gained during the pandemic. We’re going to have to adjust.”
Workforce issues have been at the center of the multiple crises hospitals and health systems have and will continue to face. With the health care workforce facing high turnover, burnout and a pipeline that’s too small, Hughes discussed the importance of investing in faculty and innovative apprentice programs that provide alternative ways for people to enter the health care field.
For more on the 2023 AHA Annual Meeting, read AHA's coverage.