WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Barack Obama’s mic drop finish at the White House Correspondents Dinner was a fitting unofficial kick-off to the American Hospital Association 2016 Annual Membership Meeting, with both events taking place at the same Washington, D.C., hotel.
Although the President declared, “Obama out,” on Saturday night, in the subsequent days, Obama and his major legislative legacy, the Affordable Care Act, loomed large at many of the sessions.
From a discussion on health disparities led by CMS’ Cara James — whose Office of Minority Affairs was created by the ACA — to plenary talks by both White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt, the effects of the ACA, past, present and future, were a constant presence.
The ACA’s past and the work the field put into getting the ACA enacted into law were big components of both McDonough’s and Slavitt’s talks on Tuesday. Both expressed the gratitude for efforts by such people as current AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack, and his predecessor, Richard Umbdenstock.
Slavitt also tried to paint a picture of what CMS has done and intends to do to respond to concerns voiced by the hospital field, citing as examples the changes the agency has made concerning the two midnight rule and the RAC program. “Our focus should be on quality, not on finding mistakes,” Slavitt says. Looking ahead, he says, “We need to listen and need to stay closer to the realities on the ground.”
Also, Slavitt made a case for CMS’ proposed MACRA rulemaking, which can be found in a transcript of his speech.
Meanwhile, Tom Nickels, the AHA’s executive vice president of government relations and public policy, analyzed the implications of the upcoming elections and what that means for elements of the ACA in the meeting’s opening federal plenary.
Naturally, Donald Trump’s name came up a few times too — an unavoidable topic in the nation’s capital — and in more than one session. A crew of political pundits indicated that Trump has at best a 30 percent chance of winning the presidency, while Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly says she’s made peace with the likely GOP candidate. [Let’s see how long that lasts.]
I’m looking forward to next year’s annual membership meeting, when the field will be discussing the policies and rulemaking of the next president.