10 Things to Know About the American Hospital Association

The American Hospital Association represents nearly 48,000 members — comprised of 5,000 hospitals and other healthcare organizations and 43,000 individuals — to help ensure their perspectives and interests are represented on a national level in policy development, debates and judicial matters.

Here are 10 things to know about the AHA:

1. Eight hospital superintendents came together in Cleveland in 1899 to form the Association of Hospital Superintendents to facilitate discussions among hospital administrators. The association changed its name to the American Hospital Association in 1906. The AHA is now the leading association representing U.S. hospitals, and it is led by President and CEO Richard (Rich) Umbdenstock.

2. Mr. Umbdenstock also serves on the board or directors of Enroll America, a private sector flagship for a massive public outreach campaign to get Americans to sign up for subsidized insurance coverage through the online exchanges, but the AHA as a whole has not embraced all aspects of healthcare reform. In 2013, the AHA expressed support for a repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a cost-control entity created by the PPACA.   

3. The AHA has openly criticized the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization Model and the Medicare Shared Savings Program. In a letter to CMS, the AHA commented that the current Pioneer ACO program and the MSSP "place too much risk and burden on providers with too little opportunity for reward in the form of shared savings."

4. The AHA often lobbies in support of or against proposed legislation affecting the healthcare community, which caused it to spend more than $19 million on its lobbying efforts in 2013. Recently, the AHA lobbied for the Good Samaritan Health Professional Act that would amend the Public Health Service Act to limit the liability of healthcare professionals who cross state lines to volunteer their services in a federally declared emergency.

5. The AHA donated more than $860,000 to political parties, leadership PACs, political candidates and committees in 2013. U.S. Congressman and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy received $10,000 from the AHA in 2013 making him the top candidate recipient of AHA funds for that year. In 2013, the AHA also donated more than $30,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

6. In February, the AHA publicly opposed the Temporary Debt Limit Extension Act. The AHA along with the Association of Medical Colleges and other organizations sent a letter to House members saying they "strongly oppose" the extension of sequestration, which would reduce Medicare payment rates. 

7. In April, the AHA sued CMS in federal court, arguing the two-midnight rule is "arbitrary and capricious." The two-midnight rule was established by the 2014 Medicare inpatient prospective payment rule, and states that hospital stays lasting fewer than two midnights must be treated and billed as outpatient services.

8. The AHA called the government "An Unpredictable Partner," which is the title of the paid advertorial the AHA is running in the opinion section of the Wall Street Journal. The advertorial urged the government to be a better business partner, and said "a lethal mix of outdated laws, burdensome and ill-conceived regulations and a Congress that repeatedly raids already inadequate federal funding for hospital care to pay for other programs" is impeding hospitals' commitment to keep their doors open around the clock and care for people whenever they need it.

9. The AHA agrees with the overall objectives of the meaningful use and other electronic health record incentive programs, but believes the timeline should be more flexible to ensure all hospitals, including smaller and critical access organizations, have the time to properly implement and optimize an EHR system. The AHA voiced this opinion by partnering with the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, the American Medical Association and 45 other healthcare organizations to urge HHS to provide flexibility in the meaningful use attestation timeline. 

10. The AHA — through its subsidiary AHA Solutions — provides educational resources to support hospitals in their product decision making process. To assist hospitals in the process, AHA Solutions will endorse products it highly recommends. For example, in April AHA Solutions exclusively endorsed MEDHOST PatientFlow HD, a patient flow management solution that provides hospital leaders with real-time insights that help them optimize the flow of patients through their facilities.

More Articles on AHA:

AHA Supports "Cautious Exploration" of Site Neutral Payments for Skilled Nursing, Inpatient Rehab
House Passes Bill Reauthorizing Children's Hospitals GME Program
AHA Asks CMS to Delay Deadline for Low-Volume Payment Adjustment

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