Change is coming to Washington. As President-elect Donald Trump takes office and appoints his cabinet and senior staff — and with Republicans in control of both houses of Congress — many hospital and health system leaders wonder what these changes will mean for health care and for hospitals’ mission of caring for patients and their communities.
One thing you can count on is that the American Hospital Association will continue to be your strong voice for telling the hospital and health system story and advocating our solutions to the challenges facing the nation. We’re always here to remind policymakers that America’s hospitals are vital to meeting the health care needs of everyone. You provide access to care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, promoting the health and well-being of the people you serve. You also bring jobs and economic growth to your communities as major sources of employment.
Because we represent nearly 5,000 member hospitals, health systems and other health organizations in every congressional district and all 50 states, we are also a trusted source of information for those policymakers, the media, think tanks and other stakeholders who make the law, implement the law and shape the discussion. And we are actively engaged with legislators and the executive branch in the nation’s capital to see that the voices of our members are heard when important decisions are being made.
These decisions include the fate of the Affordable Care Act. As the new administration and Congress revisit and re-examine this law, hospitals will work in a constructive manner to influence this discussion. We want to make sure that, if the ACA is repealed, an appropriate replacement bill is in place to simultaneously provide coverage to those 20 million people who were previously uninsured.
Moreover, if the ACA is repealed without replacement, it is vital that Congress restore the Medicare and Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital payment reductions along with the Medicare productivity reductions to inpatient and outpatient hospital services that were made when the law was initially passed to help fund coverage for millions of Americans. If not restored, these reductions could impact the quality of care available to patients and patients’ care options. Restoring these cuts is absolutely essential to enable hospitals to provide the care that the patients and communities we serve expect and deserve.
Another important goal is regulatory reform. Hospitals now face many duplicative, excessive, antiquated and contradictory regulations that force them to spend too much time on paperwork, not patients. Reducing this administrative burden would save hospitals time and effort and also save billions of dollars annually. The new administration has expressed a keen interest in regulatory relief, and we already have sent them a detailed list of regulations they could address.
As the federal government prepares to tackle these issues and many others, the AHA will work with policymakers to further better health and healthier communities. We represent the interests of hospitals small and large, rural and urban, serving both Democrats and Republicans, and we believe a society in which all individuals reach their best potential for health is something everyone supports.
Despite change in Washington, the AHA remains dedicated to the same mission. We will continue to work to advance the transformation of health care, ensure access to coverage, preserve adequate resources for health care, protect patient access to care, enhance the quality of care and patient safety, and make health care more affordable. Working together, I am confident America’s hospitals can meet the challenges and realize the opportunities the future holds.
Rick Pollack is president and CEO of the American Hospital Association.