|Delegation from All Children’s Hospital and Johns Hopkins Medicine Visit Washington, DC|
The unseasonably pleasant February weather created a perfect backdrop for a warm, favorable day of Capital Hill meetings for ACH President and Vice Dean Dr. Jonathan Ellen and Johns Hopkins Children's Center Director Dr. George Dover - with a forecast of continued support from Florida and Maryland lawmakers.
Dr. Ellen and Dr. Dover delivered an equally clear, crisp message about the shared mission of care, cutting-edge research and population health of All Children's and Johns Hopkins Medicine - as well as the vital importance of maintaining funding for Graduate Medical Education (GME) and Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME).
In a full day of face-to-face meetings with members of Congress or their top aides, the medical leaders fortified longstanding alliances with policy-makers from their respective states and built new relationships in the process.
"It went very well," recounted Dr. Ellen. "And by having both the Florida and Maryland delegation at our disposal, we were able to actually learn some new things about how sequestration may have an effect on us."
Among the biggest issues: how and in what form GME may continue or be spared the drastic cuts that have been proposed by various commissions; the need to maintain funding for both GME and CHGME at current levels to allow for important innovation; and the vital role Medicaid funding for All Children's. With a Medicaid population of 70 percent, All Children's is the state's biggest Medicaid provider.
"I think the dialogue was helpful," Dr. Ellen said. "It's good to get a pulse on what is going to happen with regards to sequestration. We had an opportunity to meet with Congresswoman Kathy Castor to get ideas about how she can continue to help us make sure the children of Florida get the best opportunities for care.
"And it was great because Dr. Dover shared how Johns Hopkins and All Children's came together - people really wanted to hear that. They appreciated hearing, particularly the Florida delegation, that there was a commitment both to education and research, which could both turn into jobs and boost the economy in their district or in their state. We had very positive feedback about that. So I think it was overall very positive."
The day began at 10 a.m. at Union Station, where Dr. Ellen, accompanied by ACH Vice President of Government and Corporate Relations Amy Maguire, met up with Dr. Dover and Melissa Lindamood, a director of Federal Affair at Johns Hopkins University. Their overarching objective: to brief Maryland and Florida delegation members about the ambitious, bold future of All Children's some two years into its integration with JHM.
The schedule then unfolded with a steady flow of productive meetings well into the evening - including Monica Richter, Senior Health liaison for Congressman Gus Bilirakis; Sally Canfield, Chief Health Policy Director in the office of Senator Marco Rubio, Congressman Andy Harris, Congressman John Sarbanes, Congresswoman Castor; Children's Hospital Association President Mark Wietecha and Vice President Jim Kaufman; and Harry Glenn, Chief of Staff for Congressman Bill Young. As a keepsake, each was presented with a baby bottle bearing the names of ACH and JHCC, with a detailed information sheet on the two inside.
"We have had close relationships for years with our congressional leaders from Florida, and certainly the same is true of our Johns Hopkins partners," said ACH's Maguire. "So the purpose as we continue - and I'm in D.C. regularly - is to stay top of mind. And we want to make sure they know we're a creative, innovative system working on a whole population health model to manage very sick kids.
"Our message is, we do take care of very, very sick kids, and as the state's highest Medicaid provider, we don't get the Medicare funding that an adult hospital does. So that's why we're concerned about any cuts to Medicaid. And on the GME and CHME side, we are ultimately concerned because of the physician shortage - more specifically, the pediatric and subspecialty shortage. So we want to be sure that we can train tomorrow's doctors."
She and Dr. Ellen recently completed a similar trip to Tallahassee that involved meeting with no less than 16 legislators. Of course, the D.C. trip came with the added dynamic and stakes of a national audience of government representatives.
"We do the exact same thing in Tallahassee," Dr. Ellen said. "The best words are that the experience is intense - and intentional. There's a very intentional, deliberate process. You craft your message carefully. Some of the work you can feel immediately and some of it you know will come to bear in six months or a year. It just depends. It's a scripted process but exciting."