A national lobbying coalition of hospitals, associations and vendors plans to raise up to $9 million by year-end to fund an advertising campaign that will press Congress to pass legislation to help hospitals hire more workers, Modern Healthcare has learned.
The 2001 goal of the Coalition to Protect America's Health Care, if achieved, would exceed the $8 million it spent on advertising last year to advocate for an increase in Medicare hospital payments (See story, p. 26). That campaign was part of a hospital lobbying effort that won a projected $12.5 billion in new Medicare hospital money from 2001 to 2005.
According to coalition leaders, the organization plans to raise $5 million by Labor Day to fund a new lobbying campaign. It will start in the summer with national grassroots efforts to highlight workforce issues, followed by an advertising campaign after Labor Day.
Another $4 million in additional funding will be sought by the end of the year. The coalition has about $4.5 million on hand.
The coalition's board approved the plan during a conference call on June 5. That came the same day as the American Hospital Association briefed reporters in Washington on worker shortage issues, releasing a report that said many hospitals are facing serious shortages of key employees, including pharmacists and registered nurses.
A coalition spokeswoman said the campaign won't directly lobby in favor of specific legislation but will educate the public to create a groundswell that will force Congress to act.
"The coalition does not do any direct lobbying," said Etta Fielek, the AHA vice president who serves as the coalition's coordinator. "Our entire focus is education, and through education we hope to motivate grassroots Americans to pick up the phone and call Congress."
The coalition will wait until after Labor Day because the public will have a greater understanding of workforce shortage issues by then, Fielek said.
The advertising campaign likely will air on national cable television news shows, as did last year's campaign on Medicare payments, she said. It could also include some local radio advertisements, as with last year's campaign, although that has yet to be determined.
To stem the shortage of workers, the AHA has called on Congress to give hospitals at least an additional $28 billion in federal surplus revenue during the next five years-$12 billion through education grants and $16 billion in increased Medicare payments to attract and retain workers.