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Oh, the places I've been...

By Rich Umbdenstock
August 28, 2015

....and the things I’ve seen! Leading the AHA for almost 9 years has been both a professional honor and a personal treat. You’ve given me the honor of representing you, the nation’s hospitals and their leaders. There is no group of organizations held in higher esteem than hospitals. For all of our challenges and, yes, our vulnerabilities, people from Congress to Main Street know, respect and depend on hospitals. All of us wish every patient experience was perfect, and we all wish... read more

Just the Ticket

By Rich Umbdenstock
August 21, 2015

A health care system without coverage is like a plane without a ticket – it doesn’t get you where you need to go. As I get ready to retire, continuing confirmation of the gains in coverage is one of the things that pleases me most. The number of Americans without health insurance has dropped one-third since 2013. That’s almost 16 million people who now have a ticket to healthier, more productive lives. The biggest gains have been among the poor. It’s not time to declare victory... read more

Topic: Access and Coverage
Tag: access

Leadership Matters

By Rich Umbdenstock
August 14, 2015

I’ve always believed that a great board is at the foundation of every great hospital. That’s why I have devoted a great part of my career in health care helping hospitals improve their governance practices. That’s why the American Hospital Association and our Center for Healthcare Governance are nationally recognized as the foremost voices in the practice of hospital and health system governance. A new study in Health Affairs confirms that trustees have a direct impact on both the... read more

Topic: Advocacy and Public Policy
Tag: leadership

More Access, Less Discrimination: Celebrate!

By Rich Umbdenstock
August 7, 2015

July was quite a month for anniversaries. First, of course, was our annual national birthday. Then we were treated to the much celebrated 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid. And, finally, an added extra was the 25th celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act. These landmark pieces of legislation increased access and decreased discrimination, addressing long-neglected societal needs. But even though their legacies are strong, long and much appreciated, much remains to... read more

Topic: Access and Coverage
Tag: access

Further Confirmation of Transformation

By Rich Umbdenstock
July 31, 2015

The Journal of the American Medical Association uses the term “jaw-dropping” to describe the conclusions of a new study that finds deaths, hospitalizations and costs all going down for patients in Medicare’s traditional “fee-for-service” program. (Data were not available for managed care patients.) We see it as further confirmation of the progress hospitals are making in improving quality and safety while curbing costs – truly transforming health care. Hospital price growth, as... read more

Topics: Quality and Patient Safety, Community Health
Tags: quality care, quality, safety, price

Seismic Shift

By Rich Umbdenstock
July 24, 2015

We have another seismic shift in the health care landscape with the announcement today that Anthem will purchase Cigna, just weeks after Aetna announced it will buy Humana. Such enormous compression in an already over-consolidated industry is a red flag for regulators. How can these mega-insurers possibly benefit consumers? And will these insurers be willing to partner with hospitals that are building a continuum of care to meet consumer needs? The AHA intends to work closely with... read more

Topic: Access and Coverage
Tags: Coverage, access

Happy Birthday, Medicare and Medicaid

By Rich Umbdenstock
July 17, 2015

Most Americans are too young to remember a time before Medicare and Medicaid – two programs that began to transform our health care system 50 years ago this month. It was an era when almost half of older Americans and millions of children and people with disabilities had no health care coverage at all. All that changed, for the better, half a century ago, putting our country one step closer to achieving the AHA’s vision of “a society of healthy communities, where all individuals... read more

Topic: Access and Coverage
Tags: Medicare, Coverage, Medicaid, access

A Little Good, a Little Bad

By Rich Umbdenstock
July 10, 2015

The news often brings some good and some bad; sometimes a step forward and a step back. This week’s good news is the proposed change that would allow payment for advanced care planning visits with clinicians, encouraging dialogs that will help patients determine how they want care provided in serious situations, including at the end of life. The response has been very positive – not a “death panel” scream to be heard! The bad news is the continuing rapid rise in the cost of... read more

Topics: Access and Coverage, Advocacy and Public Policy
Tags: physician issues, physicians, Drug Pricing Program, advocacy, financial assistance, price

Shining Light on Equity

By Rich Umbdenstock
July 2, 2015

Each time we shine, we light the way for others. The annual AHA Equity of Care Award recognizes hospitals and care systems whose efforts to eliminate disparities in care provide shining examples for our field. Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick, N.J., will receive this year’s award at the Health Forum-AHA Leadership Summit in San Francisco July 24. Also to be honored are AnMed Health, Anderson, S.C., and Rush University... read more

Topic: Advocacy and Public Policy
Tags: diversity, equity

The Comfort of Coverage

By Rich Umbdenstock
June 26, 2015

Coverage is a comforting word. It evokes an image of a blanket that gives warmth and protection, especially when things go wrong. The coverage afforded to millions of Americans through the Affordable Care Act offers great comfort, too. And the Supreme Court’s ruling in King v. Burwell means that they no longer have to worry whether they can still receive subsidies when they purchase health insurance. There’s great relief in knowing that, if we or a loved one is ill or injured, we... read more

Topic: Access and Coverage
Tags: Coverage, access



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