Thursday, April 2, 2009

Bringing D.C. to DSM

I had the opportunity to attend the President’s Forum on Health Care Reform in Des Moines on March 23. This forum was one of four held throughout the country to gather ideas and input on what folks want to see in healthcare reform.

Sen. Tom Harkin, Rep. Leonard Boswell, Gov. Mike Rounds of South Dakota, and Nancy-Ann DeParle, the Obama administration’s health care reform advisor, were all present at this forum, moderated by Iowa Governor Chet Culver.

Tackling healthcare reform is a monumental task. There are so many layers that are interconnected. Accessibility, cost, insurance coverage, Medicare, Medicaid, facilities, and more…it’s hard to know where to begin.

Rep. Boswell made two opening comments…one about the inequity of Medicare payment between states, with Iowa at the bottom of the list and one about the Medicare tweener hospital issue that affects GRMC, seven other Iowa hospitals, and about 400 community hospitals across the country. It was great to hear our Congressman tell our story to another audience. He actually handed our advocacy materials on this issue to the new Healthcare Reform Leader in the Whitehouse, Ms. DeParle.

I feel hopeful that the beginnings of reform will happen this year and that the tweener issue will be addressed. Senate Finance Committee leaders Sen. Grassley and Sen. Max Baucus, (D-MT) are in the best position to make sure our legislation moves forward. Both have gone on record in support of fixing the unfair Medicare payment system and the situation it has created for tweener hospitals like GRMC.

I’m gearing up for another visit to Washington, D.C. in a few weeks for the annual meeting of the American Hospital Association along with several of our board members. Many of you shared some incredible stories about your experiences with GRMC for a publication I’m taking to my meetings with Congressional leaders during that time. Thank you for taking the time to do this. My intention is to put names, faces, and the words of real people who appreciate what is available at GRMC in front of these decision-makers to illustrate why communities like ours need a strong and healthy hospital.

In the meantime, I keep telling GRMC’s story to make a change for the better.

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