Lawmakers need to hear from you that big challenges remain

Congress returned home for its traditional August recess. This tradition began, incidentally, as a sensible concession to the scorching summer weather of Washington, D.C., long before central air conditioning arrived on Capitol Hill in 1938.

You can’t blame our elected officials for wanting to escape the high temperatures for a while, but right now we need to maintain a different kind of warmth around significant persistent challenges that may be impacting access to care.

Like individuals and families across America, hospitals and health care systems are grappling with the difficult issues of high inflation and the ongoing effects of the pandemic. All of our organizations are facing significant cost increases: labor shortages, rising prices for drugs, equipment and supplies (including food and energy costs) that threaten financial stability and ability to provide access to high quality health care services.

At the same time, we must address supply chain shortages, manage a backlog of deferred care, and manage government underpayment, a key concern for the majority of hospitals and health systems that rely on fixed payments. of Medicare and Medicaid.

More than ever, federal legislators need to understand the challenges facing hospitals and health care systems and the issues surrounding access to care. That’s why the AHA urges all members to engage with their elected officials during the August recess — and throughout the rest of the year — and make important points about the financial hardships that compromise access to care.

Hospitals face overwhelming financial challenges. The financial support provided since the start of the pandemic has been deeply appreciated and a real lifeline for so many organisations. However, this has barely sustained entire hospitals in terms of the costs needed to prepare and care for COVID-19 patients and protect communities.

Moreover, this targeted support does not help and was not really intended to help with the critical task of fixing and rebuilding our health care system in order to maintain essential public services for today and tomorrow and to create a better health system for the future.

Federal lawmakers can take a number of steps to help ease the financial pressures hospitals and healthcare systems face. These include extending or making permanent certain public health emergency waivers and other flexibilities that have supported telehealth and hospital-at-home programs; prevent PAYGO statutory receivership that would lead to massive cuts to hospital providers under paid health insurance; and passing legislation to hold commercial health plans accountable for practices such as unfair late payments and denials, to name a few.

We will continue to advocate for quick action in Washington, DC, but we need your reinforcements at home. Your legislators listen to you because you live, work and care for their communities.

Over the next few weeks and throughout the fall, we urge you to:

  1. Contactt your legislators to host conversations about the financial reality of your hospital and the impact on patients.
  2. Invite they visit your hospital. Talk about the challenges you and your team are facing, as well as the importance of continuing to provide high quality care to your community.
  3. Tell your story on the fragile financial health of hospitals and its effect on access to care.

To support your efforts, AHA offers a regularly updated webpage with additional resources and information on the issues that affect hospitals the most.

Thank you for telling your story on behalf of the patients and communities you serve…and thank you for all you do to advance health care in America.

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