Building trust during difficult times

Building trust during difficult times

The recent Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act is a wake-up call to difficult times ahead. The Supreme Court decision puts hospitals and healthcare providers in the forefront of the dynamics of politics, economics and the social contract. This wake-up call alerts us to the potential peril that hospitals, healthcare providers, and American citizens across our land will be facing in this fall’s election. Hospitals and healthcare providers will experience the crosswinds of politics, economics and the social contract. We are now on the edge of a rising storm of access to care that now will clash with politics and the economic reality. It is time to develop contingency strategies for the many unknowns we now face.

The Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act puts the ball in play over who survives the political, social, and economic storm of our times. No matter who’s in power after the presidential and congressional election, our hospital and healthcare providers, like all hospitals and healthcare providers across America, will face challenges regarding access to and delivery of healthcare. For example, on Dec. 31, as reported by the American Hospital Association, our nation will be facing what many refer to as a “fiscal cliff” when several major provisions expire: the moratorium that would prevent cuts to physicians’ Medicare payments; the payroll tax cut; and the so-called “Bush tax cuts.” On Jan. 3, there will be automatic budget cuts as part of the 2011 Budget Control Act. Along with these economic triggers is the unknown future status of the Affordable Care Act. While the debate continues on the Affordable Care Act, there is also uncertainty about the national debt and budget deficit, plus the continual unemployment of millions of Americans, many who are either uninsured or underinsured.

The political and economic forces will continue to fuel the hot topic of access to care and how healthcare will be funded. We all must speak and inform our community and our legislators about the significant role our hospital and healthcare providers serve in caring for the healthcare needs of our community. The fiscal challenges facing our nation will surely impact our finances. The potential of cutting payments to providers for Medicare and Medicaid is a serious threat, along with commercial insurers pushing for higher discounts.

As recommended by the AHA, we must all speak up now, loudly and often, to our legislators. They must understand the fiscal challenges our hospital providers will face in meeting our mission to serve others. We must also voice our concerns to our community. We must let them know we are a critical part of the fabric of the cloth that defines our community. Without the threads of our passion in service and our human bond of trust, this cloth will soon become unraveled. We must let our local citizens know that we serve a vital role in our community, and that we are a trusted resource in caring for others. We must let our citizens know we are one of the largest employers of our community and we are the social safety net that supports our community every day during these difficult times. Now is the time for all of us to work together to let our story be told and our voices be heard. During these difficult and uncertain times, Trust with a common bond in finding ways to fulfill our mission is a must. As we embrace the new winds, we must trust each other in our common purpose to serve. We must all work together to find ways to reduce cost and improve quality and services with patient- and family-centered care.

Sincerely,

Ed Piper, Ph.D.

Former President & Chief Executive Officer, 2000-2016

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Letter from the 2012 Annual Report