As Congress convenes for its post-election lame-duck session, we are turning up the pressure to secure additional support for hospitals and the patients and communities they serve.

We need to put on a full-court press — and that includes all of us reaching out to our senators and representatives — to urge them to include a number of key priorities in a year-end spending package.

Specifically, we are asking Congress to:

  • Prevent any further damaging cuts to health programs, including stopping the forthcoming 4% Statutory Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) sequester.
  • Establish a temporary per diem payment targeted to hospitals to address the issue of hospitals not being able to discharge patients to post-acute care or behavioral facilities because of staffing shortages.
  • Increase the number of Medicare-funded graduate medical education positions to address the workforce need for additional physicians in the U.S.
  • Extend or make permanent the Low-volume Adjustment and the Medicare- dependent Hospital programs — critical rural programs that are due to expire on Dec. 16.
  • Make permanent the expansion of telehealth services and extend the hospital-at-home program.
  • Finalize Senate passage of the Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act, which streamlines prior authorization requirements under Medicare Advantage plans.
  • Create a special statutory designation for certain hospitals that serve marginalized urban communities.

In addition, we have shared recommendations with Congress to expand access to behavioral health care and strengthen the behavioral health workforce.

Throughout the last few months, AHA has implemented a comprehensive campaign to educate lawmakers about the significant challenges hospitals and health systems are facing that are jeopardizing access to care for patients and communities. These include historic workforce shortages, broken supply chains and rampant inflation that have increased the cost of caring. At the same time, we are seeing many hospitals strained with surges of RSV, flu and COVID-19 cases — a problem that could intensify as winter approaches.

While we have made progress in educating Congress about these challenges, we need to mount a strong final push. We’re doing that in a number of ways, including:

  • Meeting with House and Senate leaders to impress upon them the urgent need to provide additional resources to hospitals.
  • Holding a virtual briefing with House and Senate staff with hospital CEOs from around the country to highlight key concerns with them.
  • Running advertisements directed at key decision makers.
  • Hosting an Advocacy Day on Dec. 6 in Washington during which we’ll provide a briefing to hospital and health system leaders before they go to Capitol Hill for individual meetings with their lawmakers. If you can’t make it to Washington, you can register to participate virtually in our briefing.

While we continue to make the case in Washington, it’s critical that you reinforce the message with your lawmakers back home as you are the most effective advocate with your senators and representatives.

We have created sample messages that can be customized and sent easily to your lawmakers. Please consider sharing these messages and asking members of your community to weigh in.

When our field speaks with a strong, united and collective voice, lawmakers hear us. And we get results. Let’s make that happen again to ensure our hospitals are strong and our communities healthy.

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