Hanover, NH – Before the cameras were turned on and before moderators were able to ask questions, Republican Presidential hopefuls spent time speaking candidly with long term care leaders at last night’s Bloomberg/Washington Post Republican Presidential debate. Representatives of the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and the New Hampshire Health Care Association (NHHCA), which were lead media sponsors of the debate, talked to candidates about the growing role America’s nursing and assisted living facilities will play in providing quality care and jobs.
“It was a unique opportunity to meet with many of the presidential candidates to talk about the current and future challenges facing long term care,” said John Poirier, President & CEO of NHHCA. “How we attempt to shore up the deficit and turn around the economy will also affect how we care for America’s seniors and individuals with disabilities, and hopefully the candidates will take this issue to heart as the campaign continues. Our goal is to ensure we can continue to provide access to the quality care our residents and patients deserve. We must educate these candidates and the public about the significance of health care, and particularly long term care. The candidates need to know that we cannot afford to further jeopardize the economy or put more jobs at risk. We are working to be sure that nobody sidesteps these important issues.”
The Bloomberg/Washington Post Republican Presidential debate focused on the candidates’ stances on issues relating to the economy, including jobs, taxes and the deficit. Candidates were also questioned on their plans to create economic growth.
The long term care profession is the nation’s 10th largest employer, contributing 3.1 million American jobs. While other sectors struggled to maintain jobs, the long term care sector created 63,000 new jobs last year and generated $529 billion to the nation’s economy. Meanwhile, the entire health care sector has been a stable force in a currently stagnant economic recovery, adding about 430,000 jobs during the recession.
However, the long term care sector faces economic uncertainty as skilled nursing facilities have been forced to absorb billions of dollars in reductions from health care reform and federal regulations, and may have more cuts on the way. The past two months have been uncharacteristically sluggish for nursing home jobs, with the sector losing jobs in August and reporting zero job growth for the month of September. The only other time nursing facilities experienced the same two-month negative job growth over the past 11 years was in September 2008, at the height of the Great Recession. Now, Congress is looking at ways to potentially make additional cuts to Medicare and Medicaid through the Federal Deficit Reduction Committee, also known as the super committee.
“Our presidential candidates must be aware that nursing and assisted living facilities are not only providing quality care to America’s seniors and individuals with disabilities, but also critical jobs during a volatile economic time,” said Governor Mark Parkinson, President & CEO of AHCA. “With tens of millions of Baby Boomers soon needing our services, many more dedicated caregivers will be required to provide that care. Any political discourse concerning the economy and balancing the budget should not ignore the pivotal role the long term care and entire health care sector will play in the coming years.”
AHCA sponsored the Bloomberg/Washington Post Republican Presidential debate with WBIN-TV in New Hampshire. The debate included Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN), businessman Herman Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA).
ABOUT THE AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ASSOCIATION
As the nation’s largest association of long term and post-acute care providers, the American Health Care Association (AHCA) advocates for quality care and services for frail, elderly and disabled Americans. Compassionate and caring employees provide essential care to one million individuals in our 11,000 not-for-profit and proprietary member facilities. To learn more, please visit www.ahcancal.org.
ABOUT THE NEW HAMPSHIRE HEALTH CARE ASSOCIATION
The New Hampshire Health Care Association (NHHCA) is the largest long-term care organization in the state, representing over 90 licensed nursing facilities, assisted living, or residential care facilities who believe that all individuals served are entitled to a supportive environment in which professional and compassionate care is delivered. This belief compels the Association and its member providers to advocate for individuals who because of social needs, disability, trauma, or illness require services in the health care continuum, while also advocating for the health care provider community. For more information, please visit www.nhhca.org.
 Current Employment Statistics (BLS). Table: “Employment, Hours, and Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics survey (National), 2001-2011.” Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ces/.