In 2018, the Suburban Health Organization (SHO) CEO Roundtable made the decision to bring on a governmental affairs team. It goes without saying that SHO has been the beneficiary of great representation from partners like the Indiana Hospital Association and other coalition groups. However, given the current healthcare climate within the statehouse, we felt it was best to give more of a voice to our independent community health systems. With that decision, SHO’s newest shared service, Advocacy, was launched as SHO engaged the long-standing health care governmental affairs firm of KWK Management Group, LLC.
During the early stages of SHO’s Advocacy partnership with KWK starting in 2019, the goal was simple – educate as many legislative members on the history, geographic footprint, and innovative services that exist within the independent community-owned health care systems. That meant contacting local legislators, inviting them to facilities, and beginning to foster meaningful relationships. To help with this effort, the SHO Board of Directors created the inaugural “SHO Legislative Day,” where representatives from each member hospital traveled to Indianapolis during the legislative session. Not only was it used as an opportunity to meet face-to-face with legislators, it also helped to show the true reach our health systems have within the state. We are fortunate that many of our hospitals are located in districts represented by a number of legislative leaders, including Speaker Todd Huston and President Pro Tem Rod Bray.
For those unfamiliar with the legislative process, consider the team at KWK Management Group as the “eyes and ears” at the statehouse for Suburban Health Organization. They interact daily with legislators and staff and notify SHO when issues arise that will affect our members. Often KWK will ask SHO physicians or other staff members to come to the statehouse to testify on a bill impacting community hospitals. There has been no shortage of hotly debated topics in the healthcare space over the last few legislative sessions. In the last three years, KWK has advocated for positions important to SHO Hospitals regarding issues like site of service and banning of physician non-competes, along with a host of reimbursement disputes. While the healthcare battles are sure to continue at the General Assembly, SHO’s new Advocacy share service will help ensure that community hospitals throughout the state will have a seat at the table as major issues are deliberated.
KWK Management Group is a full-service government affairs firm founded in 1992 by Kelli Waggoner and William Keown. For nearly 30 years, Kelli and Bill represented clients in multiple industries including healthcare, education, gaming, and more. While the firm has undergone several changes throughout those years, their dedication to providing top-of-the-line service to their clients has not. Shortly after Keown’s retirement from KWK, Kelli’s son, Grant Waggoner, joined the firm in 2017 and currently serves as Vice President of Governmental Affairs. In this role, Grant represents clients at the local and state levels, before administrative agencies, and in front of the General Assembly. In addition to handling the administrative duties for KWK clients, Grant is also responsible for daily client communication during legislative sessions.