Last week, I went “back-to-school”— to the September meeting of the American Hospital Association (AHA). John Flink, WSHA’s lobbyist, and I went to get some insight about what’s happening to hospitals and health systems at the federal level.
With the allure of the campaign trail, September in election years is usually pretty quiet in D.C. However, there are a few highlights from the trip:
- The federal government budget year ends on October 1, and a continuing spending resolution will need to make sure agencies can keep going until after the election. We hope to see some new funding to address Zika.
- We’re also working with the AHA opposing site neutral payment policies. Recent Congressional budget action cuts payments to newly opened provider-based clinics. We are strongly opposed to the changes in the law. We also want the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to be more flexible in writing rules for the law, which they released recently. WSHA is asking our Congressional members to take a more reasonable approach.
- There’s always a large serving of shop talk. Locally, it’s no secret that Sen. Murray is considered safe in her re-election bid. If Democrats retake control of the Senate, she is in line to chair the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Labor and Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee.
Finally, thanks to members who took the time to participate in August in WSHA’s meetings with Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dave Reichert. Both gave us considerable time to discuss our concerns and priorities, and these meetings are very important to helping elected officials stay connected with what’s happening in their home communities.
Next week, we’re excited to be leading a trip to D.C. for more staff and members: Rural Advocacy Days. Our rural hospitals are crucial to the existence of their communities, so it’s important for lawmakers to know what’s happening in health care. Washington State rural hospitals are especially innovative, so we’re excited to go to The Other Washington and tell our story.
WSHA President & CEO