Focusing on key issues Preserving and Protecting the Safety net
ORANGE, CA – St. Joseph Health continues to address the needs of its communities by setting its advocacy priorities for 2011 that include Preserving and Protecting the Safety Net; Childhood Nutrition and Obesity Prevention; Physician Issues; Catholic Ethical Integrity: Conscience Rights; and Health Care Reform Implementation.
“The dynamic situation of today’s health care environment requires us all to be active participants in the overall discussion as we address the needs of our patients, communities, hospitals, physicians and industry as a whole,” states Ronald DiLuigi, Vice President of Advocacy and Government Relations. “Its imperative that St. Joseph Health continues to elevate our voice on these key issues as well as focus on the areas that will help us continue achieve our mission outcomes to build the healthiest communities while delivering perfect care and fostering sacred encounters.”
St. Joseph Health’s 2011 advocacy priorities include:
1) Preserve and Protect the Safety Net
State Budget deficits persist with California and Texas among the highest state deficits in the Nation. As a result State and county funding of Medicaid, SCHIP and numerous other safety net programs are being significantly reduced or eliminated. Among the threatened impacts in Texas are, significantly reduced UPL funding, major reduction or elimination of Trauma funding and, Medicaid provider rate reductions. In California, likely impacts include a 10 percent Medi-cal provider rate freeze, new and increased co-pays for adults and children services, and increased premiums for children’s coverage. SJH will continue to focus advocacy efforts on minimizing these cuts and supporting a balanced and equitable approach to addressing deficits. SJHS will continue to partner with other organizations in advocating for a six month extension of the California hospital fee. As well as addressing the threat at the Federal level where there is bi partisan support to eliminate this tax option all together. Additionally we will work with our respective counties to ensure effective implementation of the recently approved Section 1115 waiver, and its potential for expanded health coverage in 2011.
2) Physician Issues
At the heart of the new delivery system reform mandate of true clinical integration, is the necessity for hospitals and physicians to closely collaborate and align their treatment activities into patient centered care coordination. Severely outdated Corporate Practice of Medicine laws in California and Texas place both states at a distinct disadvantage in responding to the Federal mandate of clinical integration. SJH will continue to promote and support public policy and legislation that enhances opportunities for collaboration between physicians and hospitals. We will also need to ensure that Federal and State implementation of ACO’s allows both physicians and hospitals to lead such organizations, as well as allowing for joint leadership. We will also need to protect the existing Foundation model. After numerous short-term incremental approaches to resolving the major problem in Medicare reimbursement for physicians, SJHS will partner with others to support a long-term solution to this problem. Peer Review System reform will also continue as an issue in the California legislature.
3) Catholic Ethical Integrity: Conscience Rights
Over the past three decades a number of Federal “conscience clause” actions have been enacted that were intended to protect health care providers (hospitals and individuals) from being compelled to provide abortion if doing so would violate their ethical or religious beliefs. The most recent conscience clause, enacted by Congress in 2005 is the Weldon Amendment. Every year since 2005, Weldon, has had to be re-enacted as a rider to the Labor-HHS appropriations bill. Over the past few years, particularly in California, there have been incidents of conflict around Weldon involving incorrect or narrow interpretation, and lack of enforcement. In response to these incidents and with the intent to make Weldon permanent Federal law, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the California Catholic Conference (of Catholic Bishops) and the Alliance of Catholic Healthcare are supporting legislation in Congress (H.R. 361) to strengthen federal conscience rights laws. SJH will work with the Alliance and other partners to support this legislation, and other related efforts aimed at strengthening Conscience protection.
4) Childhood Nutrition & Obesity Prevention
In support of SJH efforts to create healthiest communities, we 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. Advocate with elected officials and community leaders to raise public awareness for childhood obesity. Enhance awareness of SJHS’s Healthy4Life program through meeting with elected officials and potential partners, to insure that reducing childhood obesity is seen as an essential component to a healthy community.
5) Health Care Reform: Implementation
With the passage of national health reform, the healthcare delivery system faces the potential for significant change. The new law requires the federal government to issue rules and regulations that will affect all aspects of the delivery system and SJH. Additionally, members of Congress who opposed HCR have vowed to repeal the new law and possibly de-fund certain provisions. SJHS will monitor and track proposed changes and will engage as appropriate, consistent with the SJHS’s vision of Health Reform. We will continue to advocate for key issues surrounding the implementation of the new law that impact our ministries and the communities we serve.