Hospital employees, trustees and volunteers from Ministry Health Care joined nearly 800 hospital supporters in Madison on April 27 to attend the Wisconsin Hospital Association's (WHA) Advocacy Day. Advocacy Day is an annual event that connects hospital supporters with their legislators in Madison so lawmakers can hear about all that hospitals are doing to improve quality, increase transparency and expand access to care in their communities.
At Advocacy Day in Madison, Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital (MSJH) in Marshfield, Wis., was honored with the Advocacy All-Star Award which is given to one hospital each year. MSJH received this award for their outstanding grassroots efforts and working with WHA on such issues as building legislative relationships and being committed to the Hospitals Education and Advocacy Team (HEAT) program. Brian Kief, president and CEO of MSJH, was present to accept this award. “Our team at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital makes advocacy a priority and such efforts couldn’t have been met without leaders such as Ann Boson who leads advocacy at Ministry Saint Joseph’s and Judy Gadke who recruited large number of members to the HEAT program,” said Brian. “Participating in government issues is an integral part of our future.”
Advocacy Day attendees heard from keynote speaker Jim VandeHei, co-founder and executive editor of Politico, the highly influential national political media outlet. They also heard remarks from Governor Scott Walker, and a bipartisan panel of leading legislators debated important health care issues and answered questions submitted by attendees.
“With the huge state budget deficit and Medicaid funding debate, we at Ministry Health Care wanted to let our legislators know how funding cuts would impact our local hospital and the patients from central and northern Wisconsin we care for on a daily basis,” said Judy Gadke, clinical case management specialist and HEAT member at MSJH. “Advocacy Day provides us an opportunity to deliver that message face to face with our state legislators.”
Advocacy Day attendees were most concerned about the impact the state budget may have on the Medicaid program. They asked legislators to keep two priorities in mind when debating and voting on the state budget:
1) Preserve the Medicaid safety net for the most vulnerable populations in Wisconsin;
2) Minimize cost shifting to employers and employees from unreimbursed Medicaid costs and uncompensated care.
Attendees provided information on the economic impact of hospitals in their communities. Hospitals are among some of the largest employers in many communities and annually employ more than 111,000 people statewide. "Hospitals across the state provide $13.7 billion in goods and services and account for over $28.3 billion in economic activity annually," said Brian Kief. “Hospitals are proud to be among the top 10 employers in well over half of Wisconsin counties and to provide many family-sustaining jobs."
Legislators were also able to learn during their visits that hospitals provided almost $1.2 billion in community benefits, gave uncompensated health care services to 1.2 million patients, and participated or sponsored nearly 60 free community clinics across the state over the past year.