Next week in Washington, D.C., the American Hospital Association will host its annual National Regional Policy Board meeting, bringing together hospital and health care leaders from across the country to discuss some of the most pressing issues our field will face in the coming years. You may remember that for governance purposes the AHA breaks the nation up into nine regions (we’re in Region 3), each of which meets three times a year to foster communication between the AHA and its members and state hospital associations. The RPBs provide input on public policy issues considered by the AHA board and identify needs unique to each region.
Maryland is well represented on Regional Policy Board 3 by health care leaders you know well, including Anne Arundel Health System President & CEO Tori Bayless, Garrett County Memorial Hospital President & CEO Mark Boucot, Holy Cross Health President & CEO Dr. Van Coots, Fort Washington Medical Center trustee Kim Robertson, and Children’s National Medical Center trustee Schonay Barnett-Jones, all of whom will join me for next week’s meeting. On the agenda:
- Medicaid reform, with a focus on financing for long-term care and support services
- Infrastructure investment, including systems to support broadband telehealth, prescription drug monitoring programs, and cyber security
- Marketplace stability, especially the steps that Congress and the Trump administration should take to shore up insurance markets
This national conference comes in the wake of Congress’s return this week from its August recess. They have a long list of goals: tax reform, hurricane disaster relief, a looming debt limit battle, and funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which expires September 30. That last item, for which funding renewal could provide a vehicle for change to insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act, will also be discussed at our meeting next week.
The meeting will conclude with an AHA Advocacy Day, during which policy board members and other hospital leaders will head to Capitol Hill to meet with their senators and representatives to deliver several key messages:
- Fully fund reductions in cost sharing that help low-income consumers afford coverage through the health insurance marketplaces, and that in turn stabilize those marketplaces.
- Fully fund the CHIP program. It is authorized until October 1, 2019, but legislative action is required to fund the program beyond September 30 of this year.
- Stop the Medicaid Disproportionate Share cuts slated to go into effect on October 1.
- Oppose cuts that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has proposed to the 340B drug-pricing program.
While Maryland is unique in the way we pay for hospital care, we and the other states share a passion for local advocacy that helps you care for people every day. The National Regional Policy Board meeting is our opportunity to bring that passion and our message of caring to our national leaders, and just one of the many ways AHA and MHA are making sure your voice is heard on Capitol Hill and beyond.