HLM: What do you see as your top priorities as chair of the Small or Rural Hospitals Governing Council?
AH: The first challenge is going to be reimbursement. With healthcare reform every organization, whether it is a hospital or a nursing home or whatever is facing tremendous challenges on the reimbursement side from the federal government. Medicare/Medicaid is seeing tremendous changes.
We are seeing changes on the state level too. It's important that as a governing council we are getting information on that impact from our constituents and if we take that message in a clear and coherent way to Congress so that they can hear it we can educate Congress about what we are doing and get them to buy in.
It's going to be more important than ever for our legislators to hear from the grassroots.
HLM: Are the concerns of small and rural hospitals being heard in the halls of Congress?
AH: I think we have a place. If you look across the demographics of our country, you'd find a lot of rural states and those legislators hear us when we come to Washington. They are aware of how important hospitals are to their local communities.
King's Daughters Medical Center is the third-largest employer in Lincoln County. I have a message and a platform that allows me to be heard. Across America a lot of times the hospital is the largest employer with the best-paying jobs.
If you eliminate those from small communities they are going to dry up and blow away.