July 27, 2008

The Committee on Governance Corner

By Kennedy, Thomasine

Health Care Reform and You Health care reform. It's a topic on a lot of people's minds. There are a million theories as to what is wrong with our health care system, and nearly as many suggestions about how to fix it. While the answers aren't clear, what is certain is that something will need to be done to fix our ailing health care system ... and soon.

The American Hospital Association is playing a leadership role in the debate about the future of American health and health care. AHA, with help from its members and other stakeholders, has developed Health for Life: Better Health. Better Health Care., a framework for changing the U.S. health system and the way American's think about health care. It is a work in progress and will continue to be refined as we move into the fall election season and beyond.

On the "Trustee and Community Leadership" page under the Member Center tab at www.aha.org, you will find many Health for Life resources for trustees. These include issue papers on the five Health for Life pillars, as well as links to AHA's 2008 Election Center and the legal guidelines for election-related activity. Please be aware that 501(c)(3) organizations may not directly or indirectly support or oppose a candidate or political party but may conduct nonpartisan voter education and registration activities. It is important for hospitals to distinguish between prohibited election-related activities and permissible education and registration activities. You also will find a link to a new toolkit designed specifically to help hospital leaders lead reform discussions at the local level, starting with their board of trustees. This resource includes discrete discussion questions, "homework" assignments and steps trustees can take to become more involved with reshaping U.S. health and health care.

As a hospital trustee, yours is a valued and trusted voice in your community. I encourage you to review these resources and, if your hospital leader hasn't broached the topic of health reform with your board, to use these resources to help lead the way. As always, AHA welcomes your feedback on Health for Life as it continues to refine the framework.

Thomasine Kennedy is COG chair and chair of Duplin General Hospital in Kenansville, N.C., and a trustee at Pitt Memorial Hospital/University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina in Greenville, N.C. She can be reached at [email protected]

Copyright Health Forum Inc. Jul/Aug 2008

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