MHA CEO Report — The Story of the MHA Program Year

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.”Peter Drucker

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEOThe theme of the 2022-2023 MHA program year was telling our story. With focus and passion, we told the stories of our hospitals and health systems, the challenges and adversity they face, and how they still provide high quality and accessible healthcare to their communities. This theme was intended to ensure that we as healthcare leaders continue to help those who don’t live and breathe healthcare understand the ways we are working to meet the most pressing needs, but also the support we need from other sectors to continue to offer strong and daily access to care for all. Our theme served to frame the four distinct pillars of our association strategic action plan, which included the financial sustainability of hospitals, workforce restoration and well-being, the behavioral health crisis and continued efforts towards achieving health equity.

I’m pleased to share we made significant progress in telling our story and achieving tangible, impactful results under each of the four strategic pillars, which is summarized in the latest MHA Annual Report. This work evolved around the ending of the COVID-19 public health emergency, a pandemic that tried our member organizations, and especially their healthcare workers, like nothing has before in most of our lifetimes. A large part of our success in making this transition and achieving so many significant outcomes was due to the MHA Board of Trustees, who I want to thank for their strong leadership and commitment to advancing the health of individuals and communities. I particularly want to express my gratitude to our outgoing Chair, T. Anthony Denton, for his steadfast leadership throughout this year.

Key to our efforts to safeguard the financial viability of hospitals is our continued focus on the state budget. Not only were we successful in continuing existing supplemental payment pools such as for Disproportionate Share Hospitals, Graduate Medical Education, Rural Access and Obstetrical Stabilization, but we also secured a Medicaid outpatient hospital rate increase. Collectively, these victories generated hundreds of millions in funding for Michigan hospitals. Long a priority of our association, the MHA also successfully advocated to ensure the Healthy Michigan Plan (our Medicaid expansion program) is fully funded. Our advocacy team continues to be one of the most respected in Lansing, as we saw several MHA-supported bills signed into law while experiencing a 100% success rate in making sure none of the 10 bills we opposed became statute.

Each of the four pillars are equally important to our membership, but it is hard to overstate just how important workforce restoration and well-being is to our healthcare leaders. This is the issue that keeps each of them up at night, whether it is finding new staff or protecting and retaining their existing workers. Our advocacy efforts secured an additional $75 million in funding to support the hospital workforce while also securing $56 million in funding to support partnerships to offer Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs at community colleges. We also continue to advocate for increased penalties for those who verbally or physically harm healthcare workers, providing them with protections they deserve as front-line caregivers, much like emergency responders receive. The MHA Keystone Center has been active in offering well-being resources, trainings, safety and security risk assessments and other offerings, continuing their long history as a leader in safety and quality not just here in Michigan, but nationally and internationally. Lastly, we recently launched a statewide healthcare career awareness campaign to entice students to pursue health career pathways.

Our work on behavioral health continues, as there remains a need to expand the number of behavioral health professionals and facilities to provide better access to care. The MHA secured both $50 million in the fiscal year 2023 state budget for expanding pediatric inpatient capacity, while adding an additional $10 million to create Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities to alleviate state hospital capacity issues. Much of the feedback we have received is the need to add quantitative data to the conversation to demonstrate to lawmakers and stakeholders the degree of the crisis. For several months, our team has been collecting data weekly on the number of patients waiting for a behavioral health bed in Michigan hospitals. This demonstrates the degree to which patients are having difficulty finding care, while also showing how many patients are utilizing hospital resources while the facility receives no reimbursement due to not having an acute care diagnosis billing code.

Lastly, we will not rest as our members continue to address health disparities to ensure health equity. The MHA Keystone Center works closely with the Michigan Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (MI AIM) to help address disparities and reduce the risk of maternal death. This past program year, their efforts resulted in 77% of Michigan birthing hospitals participating in MI AIM, 94% of which are compliant with the pre-partum assessment and 89% are compliant with the post-partum assessment. Our work with the MHA Public Health Task Force also continues as they explore strategies for collaboration that can improve data collection and public health initiatives.

Of course, there are always other items that come up that require MHA attention and effort that are not always known during the development of the strategic action plan. Responding to the shortages of chemotherapy drugs cisplatin and carboplatin and working with Michigan’s Congressional delegation is just one example of the value of association membership and how quickly we can mobilize our relationships in a time of crisis. Other wildcards include our work on licensing Rural Emergency Hospitals, tracking and increasing awareness of candida auris infections and expanding hospital bed capacity.

As we concluded our program year during our Annual Meeting on Mackinac Island, we were able to honor a true healthcare champion with our Meritorious Service Award in U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow. She announced earlier this year she will not seek an additional term in office and this award is the highest honor our association can bestow on an individual for their years of work towards enabling the health and wellness of individuals and communities. We have worked closely with Sen. Stabenow from her time in elected office in the Michigan Legislature to Congress and she will leave an extraordinary legacy for which the MHA family will be eternally grateful. We also had an opportunity to honor a number of other outstanding individuals for their contributions to Michigan healthcare.

Above all else, I want to take this opportunity to thank all MHA staff for their many contributions which made it another successful program year. The challenges we confront in healthcare are daunting and constantly evolving, but my confidence in our team at the MHA has never wavered, as they continue to display their exceptional commitment to their work and embody the MHA culture of member service and value creation every single day.

Now as we formally begin our 2023-24 program year on July 1, I am excited for the leadership of our new Chair Shannon Striebich. We offer our congratulations to her and look forward to working closely together. A year from now, I am confident we will once again be able to report on the successful outcomes we were able to achieve through our unity, collaboration and plain old fashioned hard work.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.