In 220 days, Americans will head to the voting booths with the presidency, entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate on the ballot.

And this year, when it comes to a vision for health care in America … lawmakers of both parties are as far apart as it gets.

It can be a challenge to cut through the noise of politics and get policymakers to focus on helping us manage the chronic conditions that our field continues to grapple with.

Putting the race for the White House aside — where the AHA does not take sides but simply works to be a factual resource to all candidates — we do get involved politically in congressional races, most often based on recommendations from hospitals and state hospital associations, and support candidates who understand the vital role hospitals and health systems play in their communities.

As the campaign season heats up, it’s important for all health care providers to speak up, ask hard questions of candidates and evaluate their thinking on the issues that affect our field.

We’ve created a great tool to help. The AHA’s We Care, We Vote project — with a website of the same name — encourages hospitals to get people registered to vote and turn out to vote…because that’s just good citizenship.

As part of this project, there are some basic questions you should ask every candidate. Questions like:

  • What is their position on cutting funding to hospitals through payment policies that don’t account for differences in the care they provide compared to freestanding urgent care centers, imaging centers and surgery centers?
  • What is their position on protecting the 340B Drug Pricing Program?
  • How would they address the ongoing health care worker shortage?
  • What proposals do they support to expand access to behavioral health care?
  • Do they support legislation that can reduce administrative burden on health care providers and who should make key decisions in patient care: corporate insurance companies, or the medical professionals who know their patients best?
  • What steps will they take to provide financial relief from government underpayment…and to protect the hospitals that provide health care services to their communities?

A full list of these questions and their answers can be found on the We Care, We Vote webpage. If the candidates don’t know the answers, we can help educate them.

Earlier this week, had a chance to participate in a plenary session at the American College of Healthcare Executives 2024 Congress and provide an update on what is happening in Washington, D.C., and an outlook for the remainder of the year. During the conversation with Frank Sesno, CNN’s former Washington bureau chief, we talked about his book whose title really says it all: “Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions, and Spark Change.”

Think about it. Uncovering solutions and sparking change is the conversation we need to be having with the candidates whose views on health care will shape our field for years to come.

If our entire field asks these questions and creates an echo chamber, it could get our issues on the radar screen and provide a political environment that is more sympathetic to our concerns.

During this political season…whether you’re at a town hall meeting, or just bump into folks running for office at the grocery store or the diner…ask these questions.

One of the most consequential elections in recent years is just over seven months away. We urge you to use We Care, We Vote tools to encourage voter registration and turnout among your workforces and the communities you serve. It's vital that we make our voices heard and candidates will listen to us as we continue our efforts to advance health in America. 

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