In one recent year, the United States saw 3,144,000 traffic injuries, 795,000 strokes and 17,000 spinal cord injuries. When tragedy strikes, we think about the here-and-now: getting to the hospital for emergency care. We aren’t really thinking about what comes next: post-acute care — rehabilitation and recovery — which can be lengthy and complex.

America’s hospitals and health systems are committed to ensuring patients have access to the highest quality post-acute care. Right now, as we work to implement sweeping reforms, lawmakers are considering further changes.

So on Tuesday, the AHA brought members from across the country to Capitol Hill to share their stories, experiences and concerns with lawmakers and their staff.

Our message was clear: Instead of making additional changes that will jeopardize care for post-acute care patients, Congress and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services should provide a stable environment so providers can implement the most recent reforms, analyze and evaluate their effectiveness, and use this data to guide future improvements.

The care and rehabilitation provided through long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies comes during one of the most challenging times in a patient’s life. Whether it’s regaining speech, re-learning how to walk or achieving the highest level of function after a brain injury, stroke or other injuries, patients need constant help as they work to regain their health. It’s critical that the changes we make have the evidence behind them. 

At our Capitol Hill briefing, lawmakers and staffers heard from providers about how post-acute facilities partner with acute care providers, other hospitals and community organizations to ensure patients get the support and care they need. 

They also heard about the challenges facing post-acute facilities: workforce shortages — especially in rural areas — Medicare Advantage plans limiting access to certain facilities, and rapidly-growing quality measurement and patient assessment requirements, among others.

Post-acute care is a vital part of treating patients across the full continuum of care. America’s hospitals and health systems are committed to improving post-acute care — and patient outcomes — while ensuring changes to the system have the patients’ best interests in mind. And we’re making sure policymakers know it.

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