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Progress Notes
January 2019

In This Issue

Hill Hearings Examine Drug Costs, Pre-existing Conditions

Recent Congressional hearings examining prescription drug costs and the pre-existing conditions issue underscore the importance this Congress is placing on these pocketbook concerns.

The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing January 29, 2019, to hear from policy experts and patients with pre-existing conditions. Democrats and Republicans say insurance protections for those with pre-existing conditions is a priority. Under the current administration’s efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, pre-existing protections are often threatened.

This same day the Senate Finance Committee and the House Committee on Oversight held separate hearings on prescription drug pricing and policy options. The committee is looking for potential policy and oversight solutions that will lower prescription drug costs for patients. One witness suggested the promotion of more competition and financial incentives to keep costs and prices down while another pointed to “inflationary distortions” in the system. Drug company executives will be asked to testify at a future hearing.

Shutdown Ends. The 35-day partial government shutdown came to an end on January 25, 2019, when the president signed a temporary stopgap spending bill that expires February 15, 2019. The legislation also established a conference committee to resolve differences over the Homeland Security spending bill and funding for the president’s border wall.

Although the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the agency that directs hospital and healthcare policy and regulation, was funded in a previous appropriations bill and was not affected by the shutdown, the healthcare system felt the effects of the shutdown in other indirect ways. Vouchers for low-income housing and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, cash assistance programs, and food inspections were caught in the funding crossfires.

Debt Ceiling. The latest debt limit suspension is set to expire on March 1. The Treasury Department said this week it can use extraordinary measures to assure the United States does not pierce the debt ceiling. Some forecasters project the extraordinary measures will last through the summer, though it’s too early to know exactly how long borrowing can be extended. Legislation to deal with the debt limit is often a vehicle for other pieces of legislation, including healthcare legislation supported by the hospital industry.

Early Legislative Activity 

In the few weeks since the legislative season began, several significant bills have advanced. The governor signed the Reproductive Health Act and is expected to sign the Child Victims Act. The Reproductive Health Act strengthens abortion rights for New Yorkers. Additionally, the legislature is set to pass other bills to bolster New Yorkers’ access to healthcare and health insurance, such as the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act and a bill that would ban employers from discriminating against employees over their reproductive healthcare decisions.

With this quick activity in mind, the Suburban Hospital Alliance of New York State continues its aggressive advocacy against mandated nurse staffing ratios and a single-payer health plan for the state. The governor’s call for a Universal Access Commission to assess the most practical and effective ways to expand coverage will inform this evolving issue. Other Suburban Hospital Alliance 2019 budget priorities, which are explained in greater detail on the SHANYS website, include:

  • Support for the proposed two-percent, across the board increase in the Medicaid rate to hospitals, as well as lobbying for the state’s ongoing commitment to the Vital Access Provider and Enhanced Safety Net Programs

  • Equitable distribution of remaining Health Care Facility Transformation Funds

  • Assurance that the remainder of the $2 billion from the Fidelis/Centene conversion is dedicated to broad-based health system investments

  • Restoration of funding for the statewide Population Health Improvement Program (PHIP), which assists hospitals and local county health departments in their community health needs assessments. PHIPs are also helping the state forward its massive healthcare delivery transformation effort by encouraging collaborative-based work among a diverse range of health and social support providers

News Briefs

Equity of Care Award – Hospitals and health systems may apply through February 19 for the 2019 American Hospital Association’s Equity of Care Award, which recognizes organizations participating in the AHA's #123forEquity campaign for extraordinary success in advancing diversity and equity through data collection, leadership, cultural awareness, and partnerships. The awards will be presented at the AHA Leadership Summit, July 25-27 in San Diego. To learn more and apply, click here.

Dahill Dose Blog – Check out the latest posts at Authored by SHANYS President/CEO Kevin Dahill, the blog offers informed and insightful commentary about healthcare policy, legislation, and regulation.

Introducing, HANYS' NEW Community Benefit Spotlight – A new series showcasing the work of HANYS' member hospitals and health systems do to improve population health, address regional health disparities and deliver care to local communities outside of facility walls. Get your success stories shared on HANYS website, in email, and on social media with policymakers, leading healthcare professionals and the public! Submit your story today.

Community Health Improvement Award (CHIA) - HANYS is accepting nominations for the 2019 Community Health Improvement Award until Feb. 14, 2019. The award recognizes member hospitals and health systems for their collaborative initiatives to improve the health and well-being of their communities. Learn more and submit your nomination here.

Register now for NYS Population Health Summit VI - There is still time for HANYS members to register for "Becoming the Healthiest State for People of All Ages — Incorporating Health across All Policies and Age-Friendly Principals into the Prevention Agenda 2019-2024," taking place Feb. 28. The daylong summit at the Empire State Plaza in Albany targets community health leaders/coordinators who lead, plan and implement their hospital or health system's efforts under the New York State Prevention Agenda, and leaders within the organization working with population health, health equity and social determinants of health.

Quality Corner

Hospital Council Hosts Discussion with Department of Health’s New Hospital Division Director

By Kate McCale, Director of Quality and Membership Services, Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council

On January 22, the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council hosted a question and answer session with Deirdre Astin, the newly appointed director of the New York State Department of Health’s hospital division. Ms. Astin replaces Ruth Leslie who served as the division’s director for the last six years. Prior to her new role, Ms. Astin served as deputy director under Ruth Leslie for three years. 

Ms. Astin’s presentation began with an overview of the regulatory guidance released in 2018 via Dear Administrator Letters. Issues of particular interest to member hospitals including emergency department overcrowding, human trafficking, waivers for detox beds, sexual offense evidence storage, mental health screening requirements, emergency department physician training requirements, and substance use screening requirements were discussed. 

Ms. Astin also provided information on some of the division’s priorities for 2019. The division reports that in the coming year, NYPORTS requirements will be modified to align with AHRQ standards and will be standardized in ways that will reduce variations in reporting among hospitals across the state. Changes are expected to be rolled out this summer or fall. 

Healthcare providers should also expect a continued focus on behavioral health. The department, in partnership with the Healthcare Association of New York State and the Greater New York Hospital Association, will focus on equipping healthcare providers with new resources to support the treatment of patients with behavioral health needs via a High-Risk Quality Collaborative. The goal of the collaborative is to promote information sharing between hospitals with psychiatric emergency programs and those without to improve behavioral health assessment and treatment in emergency departments. Technical assistance and training will be provided through this collaborative on a variety of tools and resources including the state’s PSYCKES system which hosts patient data related to diagnoses, treatment, and medications. 

The department is still waiting on CMS to finalize proposed changes to discharge planning requirements. Once guidance is released, the department anticipates making a series of changes to the state’s discharge planning requirements including some that address provisions in the CARE Act. 

Members with questions related to this presentation can reach out to Kate McCale.

News from
Long Island

New BookNorthwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling published a book detailing recent trends and how to "reboot" the U.S. healthcare industry. The book, Health Care Reboot: Megatrends Energizing American Medicine, offers a different perspective, arguing that the "decline narrative" is outdated.

Meeting the Triple Aim – Highlighted this month in the HANYS Innovation Spotlight for meeting the Triple Aim was Northwell Health for providing behavioral health treatment to students through the Behavioral Health College Partnership. Read about these efforts and others at

NICU Excellence - The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses conferred a silver-level Beacon Award for Excellence on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Mercy Medical Center. The award recognizes individual units that distinguish themselves by improving every facet of patient care. Units that achieve this three-year recognition meet national criteria consistent with Magnet Recognition, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and the National Quality Healthcare Award.

News from the
Hudson Valley

Community Benefit Spotlight–  Members of NorMet highlighted this month by HANYS' were,
  • Ellenville Regional Hospital, for their work together with the Institute for Family Health and the Ulster County Department of Health and Mental Health, to address an increase in ER visits for heart failure through the Healthy Hearts program,
  • and Westchester Medical Center Health Network, for Faith & Flavor, its faith-based, community partnership initiative and Food for Life Campaign, which partners with local food producers, sellers and restaurateurs to emphasize the importance of nutrition and improve access to wholesome foods. 
High Standards Lab – The Vassar Brothers Medical Center Laboratory received accreditation by the College of American Pathologists for meeting high standards in its laboratory. The hospital’s lab is one of more than 8,000 CAP-accredited facilities worldwide. The federal government recognizes the accreditation as being equal to or more-stringent-than the government’s own inspection program.

Hip & Knee Recognition – Orange Regional Medical Center has been recognized as a DNV GL Healthcare certified Hip & Knee Replacement Center. The DNV GL – Healthcare Hip and Knee Replacement Certification, based on standards set forth by certification body DNV GL – Healthcare and considering the guidelines of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, recognizes program excellence in patient care and outcomes.

Committee Updates

Revenue Cycle Committee – On January 25th, members of the Revenue Cycle Committee were provided with an analysis of the mid-term and state election results and a legislative forecast for 2019. Hospital Council staff provided updates on price transparency and changes in Medicare coverage policies. Recent payer issues related to behavioral health, sepsis, and MRI policies were also reviewed. 

Nurse Executive Committee – At the January 29th meeting of the Nurse Executive Committee, Maria Brennan, Chief Nursing Officer at Lourdes Health System and Susan Cholewka, Executive Director at the Organization of Nurse Leaders provided an overview of the Nurse Workplace Environment and Staffing Program currently being implemented in over twenty New Jersey Hospitals. Hospital Council staff provided regulatory updates on proposed on-call regulations, proposed human trafficking regulations and newly released resources for patients with substance use disorders.

Upcoming Events

HANYS/Allied Association Budget and Policy Briefings

HANYS strongly urges chief executive officers, governmental affairs representatives, financial officers, operating officers, public relations directors and any other interested staff to participate in the budget and policy briefings that HANYS and the allied associations will host to detail the impact of Gov. Cuomo’s proposed state budget, which he will release on Jan. 15 in conjunction with his annual State of the State address.

The briefings will be held in every region of the state and will cover advocacy strategies and budget details. These briefings are also an opportunity for you to ask questions and offer your insight. Learn more and register at

Allied Association

Date and Time



Iroquois Healthcare Alliance

Wednesday, Feb. 6

2 - 4 p.m.

Iroquois Healthcare Alliance


Kourtney Van Patten

This webinar does NOT require advance registration. Click on this link at the time of the webinar:

You can also dial in:
(312) 757-3121
Access Code: 294-559-733

Greater New York Hospital Association

Thursday, Feb. 7

2 - 4 p.m.


555 West 57thStreet
New York

Sheila Kaplan

Western New York Healthcare Association

Thursday, Feb. 7

4:30 -7 p.m.

Giancarlo’s Sicilian Steakhouse

Tony Walker Plaza
5110 Main Street

Sara Glena

Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council

Friday, Feb. 8

9 - 11 a.m.


1383 Veterans Memorial Highway, Suite 26

Register Online

Ramona Bielawski

Pandion Optimization Alliance

Friday, Feb. 8

10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Pandion Optimization Alliance

3445 Winton Place
Suite 222

Mary Beth Walker

Northern Metropolitan Hospital Association

Wednesday, Feb. 13

10 a.m. - Noon

Montefiore Corporate Offices

555 South Broadway
Bldg. A, 1st Floor South Wing

Register Online

Ramona Bielawski



HANYS Advocacy Day

Registration is now open | March 5, 2019 | Empire State Plaza Convention Hall | Albany, New York

The New York Legislature began its 2019 session with a new Democratic majority in the Senate, new leadership posts in the Assembly Democratic majority and many newly elected legislators in both houses.

With all of these changes, the strong, collective and persistent advocacy of all HANYS members will be critical. Your participation will help educate lawmakers about the healthcare delivery system in New York, advance our proactive agenda, stop harmful proposals and secure the investments necessary to provide patients with the services they rely on every day.

We encourage you to bring executives, key staff and trustees from your organization. For members coming into Albany on March 4, we will be hosting a cocktail reception and dinner. Members are also welcome to attend the HANYS board of trustees meeting Thursday afternoon. Registration is now open.


Copyright © 2019 SHANYS, All rights reserved.

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