Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Historic Healthcare Reform, Indeed

There really is no other way to put it. The healthcare reform signed into law by the President is indeed historic. Whether or not you like the legislation, there is no doubt that it will clearly affect Americans for many years to come.

Obviously, we are a long way from being done. The reconciliation bill is being debated in the Senate. Several states across the country are filing lawsuits saying the legislation is unconstitutional. The process of writing the rules will crank up soon, and each of these will continue the process started with the stroke of the President’s pen. The talk show hosts, the political pundits, politicians, and coffee shop patrons are buzzing about the history-making legislation that we will continue to learn more about in the coming days and weeks.

Although it seems anticlimactic at this point (given all the rhetoric on both sides of the political aisle and the size of this bill), I want to celebrate a major component of the bill. After several years of advocating for “tweener” hospitals, we finally have some legislation that improves the very inequitable Medicare payment levels for middle-sized rural hospitals like Grinnell Regional Medical Center. We have been fighting for the people we serve and I want to acknowledge the Iowa Congressional delegation for their efforts to make sure “tweener” reform was written into the bill and stayed in the bill. This issue had bipartisan support. I especially I want to thank the staff in the offices of Senators Grassley and Harkin and Congressman Boswell for their tireless work on this issue. The Iowa Hospital Association and the American Hospital Association also worked hard to deal with this issue. It was a team effort to bring some fairness to these payment levels so that GRMC and “tweeners” across the country can better meet the needs of the seniors who depend on us.

I don’t know for sure what the true impact of healthcare reform will be for America. I do know that after literally dozens of trips to Washington, D.C., pleading the case for making Medicare payment a little more fair for GRMC and other middle-sized rural hospitals, we finally have a victory. The winners are the Medicare patients and the healthcare providers who provide the high quality care they deserve.

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