CEO Message

The Challenge of Our Day

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Across the nation, the headlines are bold. 

From patients going bankrupt due to unexpected medical bills to the news that one in seven patients is burdened by surprise bills.

Daily, these stories keep at the forefront a disparity issue of growing proportion: how to ensure that health care is available, of the highest possible quality, yet affordable for the tens of millions of people who struggle with everyday expenses, let alone the costs of unexpected health needs. Clinical advances, technology, drugs, and more allow us to save lives and perform health care miracles every day, but these accomplishments are increasingly unaffordable for the average person.

The health care affordability conversation is not only dominating the media, but also the Capitol building in Sacramento and the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Hospitals are front and center in this debate.

That’s why your CHA is tackling the affordability issue head-on. Last week, we launched a month-long social media campaign, directed at California’s lawmakers, to provide a framework for addressing health care affordability. That framework is based on the work of CHA’s Board of Trustees and points to four ways to address affordability:

  • Expand coverage, so people can get the care they need before illnesses become more acute and care becomes more expensive. 
  • Enhance access to services, especially to behavioral health services.
  • Create greater value in the health care system through payment models that incentivize the right care.
  • Reduce the regulatory burden to avoid expensive additions to the cost of care.

The goals of this campaign are to help lawmakers understand what’s really driving health care costs and offer pragmatic, thoughtful policy solutions. You can follow the campaign on Twitter at our handle, @calhospitals.

This was just the first step. In the coming weeks, we’ll be discussing policy options with our board, the hospital field at large, and, when ready, with legislators and the Governor. We hope you’ll be a part of that discussion along the way.

The affordability of health care may be the great challenge of our day, and California’s hospitals are certainly being looked to for leadership and ideas. There is no quick fix, and solutions will be a complex blend. But absent good thinking, overly simple and ineffective ideas to make care more affordable — likely by simply cutting payments without actually cutting costs — will prevail.

Instead, we may have an opportunity to define our future, rather than respond to a future conceived by others.

The scrutiny will be intense, and the pace of change in health care will continue to accelerate. But together we can build a bridge from the hospitals of today to the hospitals of tomorrow. And your CHA will be with you every step of the way.

— Carmela