Washington's newest provider association isn't raising objections from the more established healthcare membership organizations, just questions about what it will do that they don't already.
The Community Hospital Medical Education Alliance, based in Bethesda, Md., is rising from the ashes of the American Osteopathic Healthcare Association, whose president and chief executive officer, David Kushner, is also president and CEO of the newly formed group. The 50 members of the stagnant AOHA voted to dissolve and transform into the broader alliance structure in January. The new organization is soliciting community hospitals that have allopathic teaching programs, as well as hospitals that have osteopathic residencies.
"Part of this is creating an awareness that teaching for physicians takes place at the community hospital level," Kushner said. "Most people would not think that. There is a sense that teaching of physicians takes place at large academic medical centers and that's it."
The CHMEA wants to represent the interests of community teaching hospitals to members of Congress. About 800 community hospitals have graduate medical education but don't offer enough residency programs to meet the membership criteria for the American Association of Medical Colleges, Kushner said.
But too many competing hospital voices in Washington might scuttle the overall message of the industry, said Gary Mecklenburg, president and CEO of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare in Chicago. He spoke at the annual Congress on Healthcare Management held last week in Chicago by the American College of Healthcare Executives. The immediate past chairman of the American Hospital Association, he said individual hospitals must be willing to set aside their own interests for the good of the industry.
"We don't need any more new associations," said Mecklenburg, who was on a panel addressing the future of the healthcare industry. He did not specifically address the new teaching hospital association.
The Chicago-based AHA, the nation's largest hospital advocacy association, represents close to 5,000 hospitals and other provider organizations. The Federation of American Hospitals, which represents for-profit hospitals, has 24 hospital companies with roughly 1,700 hospitals. The CHMEA has 50 hospitals, all of which were in the former AOHA.
The AAMC, based in Washington, represents 400 major teaching hospitals through its Council of Teaching Hospitals. Its members are required to have at least four medical school residency programs.
Although the smaller community teaching hospitals aren't typically members of the AAMC, Dick Knapp, the AAMC's executive vice president, isn't sure what is left for a new association to handle on the advocacy front. "I don't know what they would do that we don't do," Knapp said.
He said he wasn't aware of the new association when contacted by Modern Healthcare last week.
A core service that the CHMEA offers is federal advocacy, focusing on reimbursement issues for medical education, Kushner said. For example, the CHMEA is fighting a scheduled cut to Medicare indirect medical education payments for hospitals in fiscal 2003. But Knapp said smaller community teaching hospitals that aren't members of the AAMC still benefit from the AAMC's advocacy efforts, such as its opposition to indirect medical education cuts. "I just don't know what the issues would be there," he said.
Kushner isn't dissuaded, however. "What we have been hearing is that there is a market there," he said. He said he has received encouragement from congressional offices during recent visits about community teaching hospitals' need for a voice on Capitol Hill.
The CHMEA is charging $5,500 to $20,000 for membership, depending on a hospital's number of medical residents. The AAMC charges a flat fee of $14,500 per hospital. Kushner said he has had "numerous conversations" with AAMC and AHA leaders while developing plans for his new association. The AHA declined to comment.
The CHMEA had planned a news conference to announce its formation at the AHA's Washington membership meeting in early April, but a spokesman said late last week that the event had been canceled because of "scheduling problems."
The Chicago-based Alliance of Independent Academic Medical Centers, which represents 50 large teaching hospitals that aren't part of universities, isn't threatened by the emergence of the CHMEA, according to Executive Director Nancie Noie Thompson. She said her organization relies on the AAMC to fight Congress on reimbursement issues.
When asked if there was a need for a new group representing community teaching hospitals, Thompson said, "I don't see it."