The American Hospital Association announced Thursday its policy chief is retiring next year.
Tom Nickels, executive vice president for government relations and public policy, has been with the trade group since 1994. In that time, he's championed hospitals' interests before Congress, regulatory agencies and the courts.
AHA CEO Rick Pollack said in a statement that Nickels helped position the organization as one of the most effective advocacy groups in Washington, D.C.
"Through his work, Tom has put his stamp on many of the most important health policy issues in the past quarter century," Pollack said. "He is a brilliant strategist and a fierce advocate for our members."
Nickels will be replaced by AHA's next executive vice president-designate, Stacey Hughes, who currently works as an outside political consultant for AHA. Hughes is the president and founding partner of The Nickles Group, a political consulting firm. She'll join the AHA in January, overlapping with Nickels to ensure a smooth transition, the AHA said.
At AHA, Nickels worked on key legislation impacting hospitals such as the Balanced Budget Act, Balanced Budget Refinement Act, Medicare Modernization Act, the Affordable Care Act and the fight against its repeal. He has also worked on issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as relief funding for providers.
Before joining AHA, Nickels ran the Washington office for the American College of Emergency Physicians. He also worked for the American Nurses Association. He began his career in the office of Rep. Edward Biester.
Hughes formerly served as deputy staff director for the Senate Budget Committee and lead staffer on the Senate Committee on Aging.