Before Becky Hultberg was president and CEO of the Alaska State Hospital & Nursing Home Association, she helped the state dramatically reduce its unfunded retiree health care debt as commissioner of the Alaska Department of Administration.
Hultberg said the pension world is having “a very similar conversation to the one we're now having in the health care world — How do we keep the promises we've made, and ensure that we're not burdening future generations?”
At ASHNHA, Hultberg has worked with the state’s hospitals to significantly reduce sepsis mortality, improve behavioral health and address the unique challenges of rural hospitals.
“Rural hospitals are very connected to their communities; they're very connected to individual patients; they manage chronic disease really well,” she said. “They ensure access to the appropriate level of care. But the financial model right now doesn't always reward the value they bring in managing the health of their communities.”
Hultberg said partnerships are crucial for small, independent and rural hospitals, who face dire financial challenges.
“Those may be partnerships with other hospitals, partnerships with their association, or partnerships with other providers in their community,” she said. “But as resources become more constrained, partnerships are going to be important to all of us to ensure that we can continue to deliver the services we deliver today."
Hultberg joined the AHA Board of Trustees in January. She brings that rural focus to the AHA board and welcomes AHA’s leadership in advocating for these organizations.
“I appreciate AHA's focus on the challenges of rural health care,” Hultberg said. “It's a willingness to look at new solutions to the problem of access to care in rural America.”