Last week, Sen. Tom Daschle appeared at a conference for sehior healthcare finance types. While much of his talk was devoted to inside baseball on reform, he took a moment to urge healthcare executives to get involved directly in the legislative process. “If you don’t know the name of your healthcare legislative assistant, then you aren’t [involved enough,]” Daschle told the crowd.
Unfortunately, it’s likely that his reminder fell on deaf ears. In our experience, few hospital executives get involved directly in politics, though they may support lobbying efforts by trade groups. It’s not just that they’re too busy; many seem to see legislative activism as some sort of specialized skill, like accounting or database programming.
But it’s high time that they change their style
If hospital execs leave lobbying and hand-holding to specialists, legislators may never hear how things are playing out on the day-to-day level, or learn first-hand what kind of messy dilemmas your facility faces. What’s more, there’s nothing like a real-life example to make the case for, say, funding for uncompensated care. (“Here at County General, 23 percent of our patients are uninsured. That saps our finances and endangers our ability to survive. We turned away 147 people from our ED last year and the number may be higher this year.”)
nextHospitals can’t sit idly by and let the so-called professionals handle legislative issues. In fact, getting to know the healthcare LA is just the beginning.
Identify what issues matter most for your facility, find out how you can hammer them home to your political reps, and find a way to communicate your position to everyone that counts. Yes, it will take extra time and staffing, but you already have PR folks, community outreach staffers, business analysts and more. Put politics on their radar: You’ll be glad you did.