2019 is just about in the books, and it was a busy year. You only need to look back at the flurry of AHA Action Alerts and Special Bulletins to see what I mean. Some highlights:
This year, our advocacy prevented the Medicaid disproportionate share hospital cuts from taking effect, achieved much-needed regulatory relief in terms of updates to the Stark and anti-kickback laws and Measures that Matter, and prevented the wrong surprise billing plan from being jammed into the end-of-year funding bill. We look forward to working with Congress in the New Year on a plan to end surprise medical billing that protects patients and prevents insurers from getting a windfall.
We also continued to hold the Administration responsible when they overstepped their regulatory authority, securing important victories for our field. For example: the courts sided with hospitals and health systems in recognizing the many real and crucial differences between hospital outpatient departments and the patient populations they serve versus other sites of care, and required federal payers to reimburse our outpatient departments accordingly. They also prevented harm to the 340B drug savings program.
Moreover, we provided market intelligence and tools to help spur innovation through the AHA Center for Health Innovation, we promoted greater affordability through The Value Initiative, and we looked ahead to long-term policy issues facing the field through Executive Forums, a National Regional Policy Board meeting and the launch of our new task forces on rural health care and the workforce. We also launched our initiative to create Better Health for Moms and Babies, and worked to help members improve their cybersecurity to not only protect data — but most importantly — to protect their patients.
And the list goes on; take a look at our summary of 2019 here.
The takeaways: Health care is changing like never before and we’re working to make sure you’re prepared for the future. And, the success we had this year is due in large part to the outstanding team we have here at the AHA and the invaluable contributions of our members who stepped up, got involved and made a difference. You told your stories to lawmakers, the media and the courts … and you put a face on what our field does for your community and our country.
Guess what? The pace in 2020 isn’t going to slow down. Not only will we have our usual schedule of important meetings (the Rural Health Care Leadership Conference is Feb. 2-5), but we’ll also face unfinished business in Congress and the Supreme Court will potentially revisit the Affordable Care Act’s constitutionality … and it’s an election year to boot.
This all serves as a reminder that our work to advance health in America is never done … but the progress we make each year makes a real difference for patients in your community and across the country.
On behalf of the AHA Board of Trustees and our team, thank you for everything you do to advance health in America. It’s an honor to be your trusted partner, and we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season.
See you in 2020!