(WOODRUFF, WI) – Ministry Howard Young Health Care President, Sheila Clough, joined members of the Wisconsin Hospital Association, in Washington, D.C., in February for American Hospital Association (AHA) Advocacy Day. The hospital leaders talked with members of Congress, and the Senate, about the negative impact sequester, and other potential Medicare cuts, would have on Wisconsin. The Budget Control Act sequester is expected to cut Medicare payments by 2% across the board effective April 1.
Clough met with Sen. Ron Johnson, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Cong. Sean Duffy, Cong. Mark Pocan, Cong. Tom Petri, Cong. Reid Ribble , and others, to provide insight into the role of rural, Critical Access Hospitals in districts across the state.
“My message with congressional leaders centered around Ministry Health Care being the biggest employer in our area, and operating on a small margin,” said Clough. “I explained that due to a small operating margin, our hospitals would not be able to absorb sequester cuts, plus additional cuts Congress may be discussing, without there being real impacts on our hospitals, and access to care in our community.”
Cong. Ribble affirmed the importance of looking for solutions to reforming Medicare. “The faster you can move to an outcome-based, value-based system, the faster you solve the problem,” he said.
The Wisconsin Hospital Association’s Jenny Boese agreed. “We believe Wisconsin wins in a value-based world, and we are not afraid of that future,” she said. “Unfortunately, Wisconsin’s high-value providers are disadvantaged when Congress continues to enact blunt, arbitrary cuts, which do nothing to move Medicare towards value.”
Holy Family Memorial Hospital Administrative Director for Strategic Implementation, Scott McMeans, provided a similar message to Cong. Tom Petri. “Our organization serves 100,000 individuals in your district. Cuts impact access.”
Cong. Petri responded, “You’ve convinced me.” He went on to indicate that cutting down on reimbursements limits a hospital’s ability to continue providing the high quality, high value care for which Wisconsin is known.
Clough said she was honored to meet with elected officials during the event. “It was a privilege to participate in American Hospital Association Advocacy Day in our nation’s capitol,” she said. “My hope is our elected officials, and their constituents, urge support for alternatives that represent real solutions to the deficit, not cuts that could jeopardize access to patient care.”
Participants on the trip included: Reedsburg Area Medical Center CEO, Bob Van Meeteren; Ministry Howard Young Health Care President, Sheila Clough; Scott McMeans, administrative director for strategic implementation at Holy Family Memorial; Jeremy Levin, advocacy director at the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative; and Jenny Boese, vice president, external relations & member advocacy at the Wisconsin Hospital Association.