Make the NHC competition a qualification event. What that means is that you need your entry or entries to qualify for the NHC first round for you to enter them. I would recommend that you could make qualification to the NHC as easy as having beers that place 1, 2, 3 in a BJCP-competition with a minimum average score (let's say 35). Beers that meet this criteria earn "a ticket" to the NHC first round. The goal of the first round of NHC would be judge these beers, and then send the winners onto the second round as it is currently set up.
I do know one thing, the crap shoot we all went through last week is something I want to avoid going through again.
I have a real problem with this requirement. Not all of us live in Beervana - some of us live in Beerpuragtory. (aka Utah) There is one and only one local BJCP-competition here per year. So, for me, availability to get a "ticket" rests with a bunch of non certified judges who tasted a beer back in August. Not to mention getting consistant results from non certified beer judges is one of the most frustrating parts of the submitting your beers. I have had beers with 10+ point swings between competitions (in Seattle). I believe this approach is also a crap shoot. Additionally, the logistics of controlling, verifying, registering and tracking beers & competitions would create a enormous overhead for the AHA. I have and will brew specifically for the NHC.
Allow Pre-Registration. Restrict the number of entries. Up the cost (not dramatically). 1st day AHA members only and only in your local district/judging center.