St. Joseph Health 2016 Advocacy Priorities

1) Catholic Identity/Conscience Protection

2016 is an election year. With the current make up of Congress and SJH late efforts in 2015, there is still a window of opportunity to pursue statutory conscience protection this year. With the passage of Aid in Dying/Physician Assisted Suicide legislation in California, Advocacy will track its implementation. Keep in mind, there are other Catholic identity issues that may arise during the year.

Following are some of the issues SJH will pursue this year:

  • Inclusion of statutory conscience protection in federal law
  • Gun violence and violence prevention
  • Homelessness and housing for the homeless
  • Environmental stewardship, taking into account the poor and vulnerable
  • Human trafficking

2) Mental Health/Substance Abuse

Mental health & substance abuse disorder are major issues in every community we serve across our health system.

Following are some of the issues to be pursued:

  • Reform of key elements of CA Mental Health law
  • Establish Psychiatric Emergency Service (PES) unit(s) in communities
  • A “true” mental health system of care
  • Recuperative care for homeless
  • Tele-psychiatry

3) Protect Operational Stability and Fiscal Solvency of Local Ministries

Federal and state governmental oversight continues to exert pressure on American hospitals to expand their portion of payments which are tied to quality, or value-based payment models. At the same time, Medicare and Medicaid payments remain relatively stagnant.

All of this is accompanied by continued pressure through the Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) process, and the reintroduction of onerous legislation targeting community benefit and charity care requirements on not-for-profit hospitals in California.

Following are some of the issues for 2016:

  • Adequate reimbursement in Medicare, Medicaid and other governmental programs
  • Onerous impact of RAC, Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) and site neutral payments
  • Community benefit legislation hostile to not-for-profit hospitals that threatens tax exempt status
  • Viable Hospital Fee program through California initiative
  • Pharmaceutical costs
  • Texas 1115 Medicaid waiver

4) Enhance and Protect the Safety Net for Access to Care

Ensuring the continued viability of the Safety Net and broader access by the medically underserved remains a constant priority. Continued proposals for cuts by Congress will place increased pressure on sustaining the gains achieved under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Some of SJH areas of focus include:

  • Re-establish adequate funding for state and local safety net programs
  • Sustain coverage, quality, access and funding infrastructure of the ACA, consistent with the “SJH Vision of Health Reform.” Support constructive enhancements and amendments if offered
  • Increase the number of healthcare providers and expand the scope of practice for healthcare extenders
  • Continue SJH support of Immigration Reform, as well as access to health care for undocumented adults
  • Pass Texas Medicaid expansion