After Election Day, lawmakers will return to Washington to consider many important issues, including funding the government, the annual must-pass defense bill, hurricane aid, election reform and tax extenders.

These all provide potential legislative vehicles to further our advocacy agenda and advance key priorities to ensure hospitals and health systems can keep people healthy and maintain essential public services that our communities depend on.

We have spent the last few months laying the groundwork so that Congress and the public understand that the dramatic spike in the cost of caring and workforce challenges continues to threaten the financial stability of hospitals and health systems and is jeopardizing access to care and services for patients and communities. This week we began turning up the volume even more as lawmakers and staff begin to plot out year-end legislation.

Capitol Hill Briefing – We hosted a briefing for Hill staff during which hospital and health system leaders described how the financial and workforce challenges are affecting their organizations’ ability to provide care. Special thanks to AHA Board Member Kate Walsh, president and CEO of Boston Medical Center Health System; Rex Budde, president and CEO of Southern Illinois Healthcare; and Malisha S. Patel, senior vice president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Southwest and Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospitals, for sharing their story and explaining why additional support for hospitals is urgently needed.

Letter to Hill Leaders with Advocacy Priorities – We also sent a letter to House and Senate leaders outlining our key initiatives that we would like to see included as part of a year-end package. We are asking Congress to:

  1. Establish a temporary per diem payment to address a backlog in hospital patient discharges due to workforce shortages;
  2.  Make permanent certain COVID-19 public health emergency waivers;
  3. Extend or make permanent programs that support rural communities, including the Medicare-dependent Hospital and enhanced Low-volume Adjustment programs;
  4. Increase the number of Medicare-supported graduate medical education positions;
  5. Streamline Medicare Advantage prior authorization requirements;
  6. Create a special statutory designation for metropolitan anchor hospitals serving marginalized urban communities; and
  7. Prevent the Statutory PAYGO sequester from taking effect.

We’re going to keep the pressure on Congress during the next several weeks. While we make the case in Washington, we need your reinforcement back home with your individual lawmakers since when they are running for election they will be listening more closely to constituents’ voices.

It’s critical that you keep telling your story to your senators and representatives. They need to hear about the significant challenges your organization is facing and why additional support is needed to preserve access to care for patients and communities.

Please see this week’s AHA Action Alert for more details and resources you can use as you connect with your lawmakers. You also can share this sample message to lawmakers and urge your team members, family and friends to weigh in too.

Together, let’s build momentum for additional support so hospitals and health systems can always be there, ready to care for their communities.

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