It’s been an historic year for America’s hospitals and health systems. Congress last night approved a short-term continuing resolution funding the government through Jan. 19. While the bill included some priorities important to the field — it also left unfinished business that we’ll work to address early next year. These include fully funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program, eliminating Medicaid disproportionate share hospital cuts, extending important Medicare programs for rural hospitals, private market stabilization and disaster relief. Moreover, protecting coverage expansions, and ensuring adequate funding for public programs will continue to be front and center whether it is in the context of extending the debt limit or entitlement reforms.
 
These are tremendously challenging times for our field. Hospitals everywhere are working to “redefine the H” to meet the changing needs of our patients and our communities.  
 
The recently proposed mergers that see new players entering the health care “ecosystem” are creating significant environmental shifts. On top of that, we need to address the new economics of health care related to increased consumerism, chronic care management and providing higher value care. These are only a few of the key factors shaping our field. While all of these changes present challenges, they also present important opportunities for every hospital and health system to provide leadership in serving their community as an anchor or access point of services.
 
No question about it. This is an historic time and we must continue to “redefine the H”. Be certain, this is not about compromising our values. This is about meeting the demands in this moment of time in a way that secures the vital role that hospitals and health systems will play in the health care system of the future.
 
Together, we can build a tomorrow where we are as much associated with health as sickness, and more closely linked in the minds of our patients with the joy of living rather than the fear of dying. We can build a future where the patient care experience is more convenient, and seamlessly coordinated across all settings. 
 
At the same time, we also must recognize that the “H” will always be a beacon to every person who needs help. That’s what makes us so special and unique.
 
We accomplished a lot in 2017, whether it was protecting coverage for millions of Americans, improving quality and patient safety, or keeping our communities safe in the face of both natural and man-made disasters. That’s why we at the AHA consider it an honor and privilege to represent the women and men who work every single day caring for our patients and communities.
 
From all of us at the AHA, have a joyful holiday season.