2013 SJH Advocacy Priorities
Annually, the St. Joseph Health identifies legislative advocacy priorities. Those priorities are selected based on anticipated federal and state legislative issues, as well as specific Advocacy criteria established and approved by the SJH Board or Trustees based on themes of social teaching.
Core issues of Catholic healthcare ministry including religious freedom and end of life care are addressed by the SJH advocacy infrastructure as needed throughout the legislative year.
Working closely with our ministries and with select national and state organizations, we establish clear annual priorities and generate local, grass roots action by providing alerts to employees and community members and then helping them contact legislators at critical points in the legislative process.
We hope you will take advantage of our interactive website to make your voices heard on critical regional and national issues including:
- Catholic Identity - Conscience Protection, Advance Directives
- Implementing Federal Healthcare Reform
- Childhood Obesty & Nutrition
- Protection, and Enhance the Safety Net
Catholic Identity - Conscience Protection, Advance Directives
The Affordable Care Act requires mandatory employer coverage of birth control, sterilization and post fertilization drugs. Through the rulemaking process, Catholic hospitals and employers objected to the provision and sought safe harbor protection for 1 year from this rule. On February 1st, 2013, the President issued proposed rules to exempt Catholic hospitals from this requirement. SJH currently is reviewing these proposed rules to see if the rules meet our expressed concerns. SJH will continue to work with the Catholic Healthcare Association on this and other issues related to our catholic identity. SJH will seek to preserve existing conscience protection and any other measures that will allow SJH to provide care that appropriately expresses our mission. In Texas, there is a specific effort to re-legislate Advance Directives to provide more assistance to families, to maintain ethical standards of care, to protect providers' consciences, and to clarify Do Not Resuscitate orders. SJH will work closely with the Texas Conference of Bishops on this and other related matters.
Implementing Federal Healthcare Reform
With the re-election of President Obama, national health reform appears to be moving forward. SJH will continue to actively monitor the implementation of national health reform. The new law requires the federal government to issue rules and regulations that will affect all aspects of the delivery system and SJH. SJH will monitor and track proposed changes and will engage as appropriate, consistent with the SJH's vision of Health Reform. The key issues this year include the health insurance exchange, Medicaid expansion and enrollment of those who are eligible for these new programs. We face a major challenge in Texas where the Governor has thus far refused to consider Medicaid expansion. The Department is working through an extensive effort led by Texas Hospital Association (THA) and Texas Association of Voluntary Hospitals (TAVH), to convince the legislature and the Governor to implement this coverage to millions of currently uninsured Texas residents. In addition, SJH will advocate for expanded access for undocumented immigrants as well as those in underserved communities. SJH will continue to advocate regarding key issues surrounding the implementation of the new law including Medicare update rules, hospital readmissions, Value Based Purchasing, Telemedicine, Mental health services and other issues that impact our ministries and the communities we serve.
Childhood Obesity & Nutrition
SJH will continue its efforts to improve the health of our communities through our Childhood Obesity Initiative. SJH will track federal and state legislative efforts to reduce childhood obesity and seek ways to collaborate with state and federal legislators who author such legislation. We will advocate with elected officials and community leaders to raise public awareness for childhood obesity. Continue our efforts on Childhood Obesity and Prevention Week by working with elected officials and the community to promote a healthier lifestyle for children. In addition, we will continue to promote SJH's Healthy4Life program to insure that reducing childhood obesity is seen as an essential component to a healthy community. Advocacy will seek to partner with other organizations to continue to fight against childhood obesity, and engage in legislative efforts that might assist SJH in reaching our goals.
Protect, and Enhance the Safety Net
After several years of State Budget deficits in California and Texas, the states appear to be on better economic footing. As a result, SJH will look to protect and possibly enhance State and County funding of Medicaid, SCHIP, Mental Health and numerous other safety net programs. In Texas, the state will focus on quality based outcomes and managed care as well as take a more pro-active stance on waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicaid program. In California, the transition of Healthy Families to Medi-Cal as well as the transition of individuals from public programs to the Health Insurance Exchange will be a key initiative. SJH will continue to partner with other organizations in advocating for a two year extension of the California hospital fee, as well as addressing the threat at the Federal level where there is bipartisan support to eliminate this fee option all together. SJH will also work with our respective counties to ensure effective implementation of healthcare reform, and its potential for expanded health coverage as well as helping those on County programs transition to Medicaid. Based upon activities last year in California which were driven primarily by labor, Advocacy expects a substantial challenge to not-for-profit hospitals. Advocacy will work closely with our partners in protecting our not-for-profit role and status. Finally, while mental health and immigration reform have eluded past efforts of reform, Advocacy sees definite potential for action on both issues this session, possibly at Federal and State levels.