Led by GHA Chairman and Piedmont Healthcare System CEO Tim Stack, six GHA hospital member CEOs from a broad cross-section of Georgia spent the day at our Nation's Capitol yesterday to deliver the message "Protect Georgia's hospitals, physicians, and patients" during the current health reform debate.
Joining Chairman Stack were: GHA Chair-Elect and Ty Cobb Healthcare System CEO Chuck Adams from Royston Tift Regional Medical Center CEO Bill Richardson from Tifton Columbus Regional Health System CEO Larry Sanders from Columbus Medical College of Georgia Hospital CEO Don Snell from Augusta Grady Health System CEO Michael Young from Atlanta GHA President Joe Parker, and GHA Sr. Vice President, Government Relations, Earl Rogers.
The day long fly-in began with an hour legislative update briefing from AHA Sr. Vice President Tom Nickels who advised the group to voice strong support for DSH, GME, and IME. DSH accounts for $300 million in Georgia, alone, so its survival is significantly important. He said the Public Health Plan proposal has encountered a bumpy road, but continues to move at this time. While we understand the need for universal coverage, we are concerned the Marketplace will face tremendous financial obstacles. The challenge for interested parties is that many parts of the overall health reform plan are being held by legislative leadership from public view as well as from the greater majority of lawmakers, a point that was later found to be true during visits with Members of the Georgia Congressional delegation.
The GHA member CEOs fanned out during the afternoon to meet with as many Congressmen as possible during pre-arranged meetings on the Hill. Each Congressman from the Majority Party was visited, except for Congressman Lewis, who was called away to a quickly scheduled, but important committee meeting on Healthcare. The meetings were held with:
Democrat Congressmen John Barrow (serves on the Health subcommittee of the Energy & Commerce committee), Sanford Bishop, Hank Johnson, Jim Marshall, David Scott, Republican Congressman (and Doctor) Paul Broun, and
Republican Senator Johnny Isakson's Legislative Aide for Health issues, Tyler Thompson. Senator Isakson serves on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee chaired by Sen. Ted Kennedy.
While all agreed that yesterday's meetings were important to demonstrate to our Congressional delegation that the hospital community is serious about the need for very careful deliberation, GHA will schedule another fly-in with Chairman Stack and a few GHA members in July since Congress hopes to have most of the work completed before the August recess.