Thursday, May 1, 2014

WHA 2014 Advocacy Day

WHA Advocacy Day Supporters: Some 800 hospital leaders, employees, trustees and volunteers traveled to Madison for the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) 2014 Advocacy Day event on April 16. Roughly 450 attendees made their way to the State Capitol later in the afternoon to visit with their legislators.

It was great to have Carolyn Ward and Jackie Hillman, Volunteer Partners, join me for the event. It was a great experience for all of us and a great opportunity to advocate on key issues for hospitals in Wisconsin. Our afternoon visits with Senator Sheila Harsdorf and Representative Eric Severson Staff enabled us to have open conversations on various health policy issues. Finding our way around the capital also was educational and added to the experience.

Larry Sabato: professor of politics and director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics was the keynote speaker. Larry gave a preview of the 2014 elections and 2016 presidential contenders. Republicans are favored to pick up seats in the congressional elections, but those "toss up" states will change as new issues arise and gaps are created. He also listed the potential nominees for the next presidential race, including two Wisconsin leaders, Governor Scott Walker and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan.

Sabato also discussed the polarization in national politics and how that same pattern is being repeated in state legislature elections. He said that this level of polarization is seen in many states across the country—red and blue—without consideration of the individual candidate’s leadership abilities. In the last presidential race, the candidates bypassed many states where the "vote had already been decided" far in advance of the actual election.
"We need to find a way to change that…it is destructive when we don’t talk and don’t listen to each other because it tends to reinforce bias," Sabato said.

Governor Scott Walker: addressed the attendees during the noon hour. Walker focused his message on importance of health care has a "Tremendous Economic Development Asset." From my personal perspective, similar to the governor's past speeches, Walker was articulate and knowledgeable regarding health care policy.

During WHA President Steve Brenton introduction of the governor, he recognized Gov. Walker and his staff has "strong partners" with WHA and its member hospitals to advance policies that lead to higher-quality, higher-value health care. "Gov. Walker has been a strong champion for Wisconsin’s high-value health care as an economic engine for growing private sector jobs in our state," Brenton said. Recognizing health care as a critical component of Wisconsin’s infrastructure has been a theme that the governor has refined—and repeated—throughout his first term.

"All too often we talk about health care in terms of the ‘jobs’ it creates or we talk about cost. There is quality and cost, and we have to balance those two out, but we also need to talk about the value that health care adds for our Wisconsin employers," Walker said. "The fact that we have some of the highest quality health care in the world right here in Wisconsin is a tremendous asset. We get employers to expand and locate here from all over the world. Health care is an asset, especially in our rural areas where we can compete with anyone in the world for jobs."

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