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"Groundhog Day" for Hospital Cuts

December 23, 2013 | By: Andy Carter, HAP President and CEO

"Groundhog Day" for Hospital Cuts

Many of you have probably seen the movie “Groundhog Day.” For those who have not, Bill Murray plays a weatherman, Phil Connors, living the same day over and over again. 

There is a point in the film where he decides to use this frustrating replay to his advantage. By re-examining his approach to life, he finds a new and successful way to address his problem.

When it comes to hospital payments and health care financing, we too live the same day over and over again. I can’t recall a time in recent history when the hospital and health system community wasn’t fighting proposed spending cuts. 

The process is exhausting and frustrating. There is no predictability for health care leaders as they make critical decisions about the future. 

Sadly, it is unlikely that the state’s budget woes—this time an estimated $1.5 billion budget hole—will go away any time soon. And I don’t have much hope for a miracle to bridge the great political divide in Washington.

So where do we turn but inward to re-examine our priorities and our options for improving our plight.

Let’s start with our relationships. The Pennsylvania Congressional delegation remains a stronghold in the midst of Washington’s chaos. Eight of our 21 members serve on key committees of jurisdiction impacting health care decisions. 

We have access to the members and their staff. We are viewed as credible and valued resources on health care policy. We have allies in other federal health care organizations. And while Pennsylvania alone cannot turn the tide among 535 members of Congress, our delegation has power in key circles.

In Harrisburg, we have a long-standing reputation as one of the most respected voices on health care issues. We are known as problem-solvers and conveners. 

Historically, we have been able to bring groups with diverse views together, often reaching successful compromises. We have left our mark on medical liability reform, hospital licensure, patient safety, and payment reforms to name a few.

Next, we should consider our principles. We have always been willing to identify many routes to the destination. We helped the state address budget problems, while improving hospital payments through the Quality Care Assessment. 

Our commitment to expanding access to health care coverage for the uninsured through national reforms is another example. But we will not jeopardize the mission and vision held by HAP and the hospital and health system community. 

Finally, we must assess our abilities as creative thinkers. The changing world of health care does not have room for plain vanilla ideas. We must challenge the status quo, and offer up solutions that may rock some boats. 

Well-crafted alternatives to tired policies can and should move people in a new direction. HAP has always been a leader, and we must be willing to test new waters.

As we face the prospect of another fiscal “Groundhog Day,” we need to build on our strengths. We must re-examine our options. In doing so, we will find our best opportunities for success.

Andy Carter
Written by Andy Carter

Andy Carter is the president and CEO of HAP. He is responsible for leading advocacy, policy planning, strategic direction, and communications for the hospital and health system members of one of the nation’s largest statewide health care advocacy organizations.




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