The 2020 presidential, congressional, and state races, along with several important ballot initiatives, will be decided by voters in just a few days, and while the election can feel all-consuming at times, the mission of health care providers remains unchanged as you press on through a pandemic whose spread is accelerating each week.
When it comes to advocating for what helps you serve the communities and patients entrusted to you, we know that no matter what the outcome on Tuesday or in the days and weeks to follow, hospitals have several high-priority needs from the federal government. During the upcoming lame duck session, we’ll be advocating for:
- More COVID-19 relief for front-line providers – A recent report from Kaufman Hall notes that three-quarters of hospitals and health systems are concerned about the financial viability of their organizations, one-third saw year-over-year operating margins decline more than 100% during Q2 2020, volumes are recovering extremely slowly, and expenses for things like PPE continue to climb.
- An integrated framework to support COVID-19 response – Combating a pandemic like COVID-19 necessitates unprecedented levels of cooperation between states and the federal government on issues like testing, vaccine production and distribution, therapeutics, and more; as we learn more about this disease, these joint efforts must be enhanced and refined.
- A coordinated plan to increase PPE supply and distribution – The supply chain for personal protective equipment will remain uneven as hot spots emerge in different regions of our state and across the country. Providers will need a coordinated strategy among local, state, and federal agencies to ensure an adequate supply in the coming months.
- Preservation of resources for patients – As hospitals work to climb out from the financial strain driven by the pandemic, the federal government must avoid any cuts to Medicare and Medicaid rates, and extend the delay in disproportionate share hospitals and sequestration cuts. Also, advanced Medicare payments made to providers in the early spring to help them grapple with the unexpected costs of treating complex cases should be treated as a “loan forgiveness” program as the pandemic persists. At the same time, 340B hospitals are facing payment cuts. In August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned a 2018 district court decision that found the Department of Health and Human Services exceeded its statutory authority when it reduced 2018 and 2019 Medicare payment rates for many hospitals in the 340B Drug Pricing Program by nearly 30%.
- Avoidance of additional regulations – With COVID-19 showing no signs of slowing and hospitals still reeling financially, now is not the time for new, burdensome regulations such as the Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Rule, which would alter supplemental payments to states for contradictory reporting requirements for federal funds.
It’s important to remember that, as the discord grows ahead of the election, these issues will remain a priority for hospitals no matter who sits in the Oval Office and no matter what the balance of power looks like in Congress. Health care, because it affects every one of us, should not be a matter of Blue and Red, but of finding ways to make sure every one of us has the care we all need and deserve.