“There are hundreds of health care professionals from across the country here to remind policymakers on Capitol Hill that long term care plays an important role in their communities,” said Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of AHCA/NCAL. “We are a vital part of the economy, we are a stable workforce, and we are a solutions-driven sector.”
In 2010 and 2011, the long term and post-acute care sector was handed several rounds of funding reductions. This year, advocates are asking Congress to protect funds that are critical to providing access to high quality care. The sector has continually faced threats, including the recent proposal to reduce the provider assessment threshold to 5.5 percent.
Furthermore, advocates are asking their Members of Congress to reform Medicare coverage when it comes to patients being put on observation stay status during a hospital stay. Recent research reflects a 25 percent increase in patients being placed under observation in just two years (2007-2009); however, if a patient needs skilled nursing care following their hospital stay, Medicare may not cover their rehab due to their observation stay status. NCAL also is working to revise a CMS proposal that would severely limit the use of Home- and Community-Based Medicaid waivers in assisted living.
“As providers, we see what happens every day in our facilities and in our neighborhoods,” said Joe Donchess, executive director of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association. “Many times, lawmakers do not experience the impacts of the decisions they make. We’re here to discuss how to make the best health care decisions on behalf of the millions of aging Americans that cannot be here themselves.”
In addition to addressing hot-button issues, AHCA/NCAL representatives emphasized the importance of keeping person-centered care at the core of the conversation. Through programs such as the AHCA/NCAL Quality Initiative, unveiled in early 2012, the Association has challenged its membership to improve specific areas of care, including hospital readmissions, staff stability, customer satisfaction, and the off-label use of antipsychotic medications.
Several legislative leaders addressed the advocates including Congressmen Bill Cassidy (R, LA-6) and Tom Latham (R, IA-4) and Congresswomen Kathy Castor (D, FL-11) and Nan Hayworth (R, NY-19).
“Everything we do is about ensuring access to high quality care,” said Neil Pruitt, AHCA Chair. “If we don’t have funds, seniors and individuals with disabilities may lose access to the care they so desperately need. We’re on the Hill reminding Congress them that long term and post-acute care impacts their families, their communities and their constituents.”
For more information on these issues, please visit the AHCA/NCAL website.
 Health Aff (Millwood). 2012 Jun;31(6):1251-9. Sharp rise in Medicare enrollees being held in hospitals for observation raises concerns about causes and consequences. Feng Z, Wright B, Mor V.
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represent more than 12,000 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit www.ahca.org or www.ncal.org.
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) represent nearly 11,000 non-profit and proprietary facilities dedicated to continuous improvement in the delivery of professional and compassionate care provided daily by millions of caring employees to 1.5 million of our nation's frail, elderly and disabled citizens who live in nursing facilities, assisted living residences, subacute centers and homes for persons with mental retardation and developmental disabilities. For more information, please visit www.ahca.org or www.ncal.org.