Perspective: Speaking with One Voice to Advocate for Strong Hospitals and Healthy Communities

Hospital and health system leaders from across the country next weekend will begin to arrive in Washington, DC for the 2022 AHA Annual Membership Meeting.

We’ve built a program highlighted by nationally recognized speakers — from both sides of the political aisle — and special forums that bring together strategic ideas and relevant research with thought leaders driving policy on the biggest issues affecting our field.

From the Administration, we’ll gain insights from the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra; US Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy, MD.; Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Petite Brooks-LaSure; Anthony Fauci, M.D., chief medical advisor to the president; and FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbat.

We’ll get a bipartisan read on the dynamics on Capitol Hill from Sens. Joe Manchin DW.Vaand Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; as well as Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio. From the media, Margaret Brennan, moderator of CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” and Eugene Robinson, columnist for The Washington Post, will be on hand to interpret today’s political environment and the dynamics of the mid-term elections.

Lee Fleisher, MD, who oversees clinical, quality and safety standards for health care facilities and providers at CMS, will moderate a panel on preparedness; and we’ll hear from andy slavittformer senior adviser to President Biden’s White House pandemic response team, as part of a panel on lessons learned and innovations that are here to stay from our COVID-19 experience.

In addition, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who is also a former director of the CIA, will offer his global perspective; and presidential historian and bestselling author Michael Beschloss will share historical context for today’s political landscape.

Apart from the outstanding speaker lineup, the Annual Membership Meeting is also an opportunity for our field to deliver a unified message to Congress on our key advocacy priorities.

As you know, Congress left town last week without addressing any of the issues critical to dealing with COVID-19. That means they will summarize discussions on COVID-19 relief when they return to Washington on April 25, giving us an important opening to get our priorities in the mix for that package or other legislation Congress may take up before focusing its attention on the mid- term elections.

Our top messages to lawmakers will be to:

Support continued efforts to conquer COVID-19 by ensuring hospitals and health systems have the resources they need to care for their communities during the still ongoing pandemic and adequately prepare for future public health crises. Among other efforts, 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.

Strengthen the health care workforce by enacting policies to address the urgent needs of our workforce, prepare them for tomorrow and build a pipeline for the future to ensure access to care in our communities.

And ensure hospitals are always there to care by rejecting proposals that would reduce hospitals’ already-stretched resources threatening access to care, as well as supporting policies that would promote access to care and coverage and enhance quality and equity.

We’ll be providing more details, background and key messages on these issues during AHA’s Annual Membership Meeting. April 24-26.

You can still make plans to join us in Washington if you haven’t done so yet by registering here. And if you can’t join us in person this year, you can make a difference by delivering these important messages to your lawmakers.

Last week, we issued an AHA Action Alert with key messages on additional COVID-19 relief that you could deliver to your lawmakers while they are home in their districts and states this week and next week. We’ve also made it easy for you — or your family, friends, neighbors or coworkers — to send a message to lawmakers. You can share this link with sample messages that can be customized with specific information about why your hospital needs additional support.

We’ve seen time and time again when our field speaks with a strong, united and collective voice — policymakers and 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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