Perspective: Ensuring Our Message is Heard as Congress Returns to Washington
“Americans are ready to move on from COVID-19, but the virus isn’t finished, and hospitals are still feeling the crush of the pandemic.”
Those words, which begin a TV ad that started running nationally this week from the Coalition to Protect America’s Health Care (of which the AHA is a founding member), form the crux of our field’s urgent message to Congress as lawmakers head back to Capitol Hill next week.
Hospitals and health systems need additional resources and support right now to address mounting financial challenges exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that access to care is available to all patients and communities.
The challenges are real and multifaceted.
- Hospitals and health systems are seeing significantly higher expenses from supply chain disruptions, workforce shortages and increased labor and drug costs. We’ll be releasing a new report on Monday detailing these significant challenges.
- They are contending with months of essential hospital revenue being erased due to the combination of forced shutdowns and slowdowns of regular operations for non-emergent care during COVID-19 surges.
- They are experiencing cuts to Medicare payments, including a 1% Medicare sequester cut that resumed April 1. That cut will increase to 2% on July 1 without additional congressional action.
- They are seeing reimbursement rates that do not adequately rise with skyrocketing inflation, and proposals, including one this week from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that would mean hospitals would actually see a net decrease in inpatient Medicare payments in 2023 compared to 2022. This is simply unacceptable for hospitals and health systems – and their front-line caregivers – that have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic for over two years.
We’ve been urging Congress to provide additional support to address these challenges, but now is the time our field needs to mount a full court press to push for action on our key priorities.
These include: providing relief from Medicare sequester cuts; replenishing the Provider Relief Fund; granting flexibility on accelerated and advance Medicare repayments; and extending or making permanent critical waivers that have improved patient care.
Hospital and health system leaders will be delivering these key messages and others to lawmakers next week during AHA’s Annual Membership Meeting in Washington, D.C.
We’ve also developed sample messages that can be easily customized and sent to lawmakers through email, phone or social media. You can share this link with your family, friends, coworkers and neighbors so they can reinforce this important message.
There is plenty of competition for Congress’ attention these days, including other sectors that are seeking COVID-19 relief, so it is more important than ever that we speak with a strong, united and collective voice.
For more than two years, hospitals and health systems have stood strong in the battle against a life-changing global pandemic. It is not yet a closed chapter, and our steadfast caregivers need continued federal support and resources to protect the patients and communities they serve.
We all have a role to play in making that happen. Let’s do our part.