Record Number of Long Term Care Professionals Gather on Capitol Hill to Push Back on Federal Staffing Mandate

Joe Warner Patient Advocacy Award Recipients Honored for Commitment to Senior Care

Advocacy; Congressional Briefing
​WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) today welcomed more than 600 long term and post-acute care professionals at its annual Congressional Briefing event to take the profession's legislative priorities to Capitol Hill. Advocates will hear from Senator John Tester (D-MT), House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-MA-5), Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY-2), and American political journalist and best-selling author Jonathan Karl. The attendance at this year's Congressional Briefing is its highest in history.

“This is the most important time to be on Capitol Hill to fight for access to care for our nation's seniors and individuals with disabilities," said Clif Porter, Senior Vice President of Government Relations for AHCA/NCAL. “We must make it clear to our members of Congress that the Administration's staffing mandate will do more harm than good for our residents, staff, and communities. It's not too late to stop this mandate and work together on more meaningful policies to boost our workforce."

The Association has endorsed the bipartisan Protecting America's Seniors' Access to Care Act (S. 3410/H.R. 7513), which would block the federal staffing mandate recently finalized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A recent analysis of the mandate found that nearly 300,000 nursing home residents would be at risk of displacement as facilities are forced to downsize or close entirely due to the impossible nature of the final rule.

This week, AHCA/NCAL members will meet with hundreds of members of Congress and their staff to share their local experiences and discuss several important topics, including the ongoing labor shortage in long term care. While workforce levels in other health care sectors have completely recovered to their pre-pandemic levels, nursing homes are still down 7.6 percent. The profession is advocating for meaningful investments and programs that will help build a pipeline of caregivers, including various pieces of legislation that support the development of certified nursing assistants and expand opportunities for international caregivers to serve in the U.S.

“Despite the challenges we face in long term care, it's an exciting time to be in the sector. Washington plays a key role in ensuring we can deliver quality care for our patients and residents," said AHCA Board Chair Phil Scalo. “We must work with lawmakers to help shape the future of the sector and prepare for a growing elderly population."

Joe Warner Patient Advocacy Award

During the event, AHCA/NCAL will also recognize the 2024 Joe Warner Patient Advocacy Award recipients Steve Flatt and Tom Syverson. Flatt is the CEO of the National HealthCare Corporation (NHC), and Syverson is the Director of Government Relations for the Good Samaritan Society.

Flatt first joined NHC in 2005 as part of the senior management team. In 2009, Flatt was named President of NHC, and in 2017, became the fourth CEO in NHC's history. He currently serves as a member of the AHCA Board of Governors and as Co-Chair of the Council for Post-Acute Care. He was in the inaugural class of the Nashville Health Care Council Fellows Program, sponsored by Senator Bill Frist, and served on the Board of the Nashville Health Care Council from 2017-2023. Flatt was chosen by The Nashville Business Journal as one of Nashville's “Health Care Heroes."

For more than 35 years, Syverson has been with the Good Samaritan Society, including previously as the executive vice president/chief operating officer and the vice president of operations. He has served on a number of committees and task forces during his career and as the chairman of the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards. He currently is a Rural Health Fellow in the National Rural Health Association. Throughout his career with the Good Samaritan Society, Syverson has had several family members reside in its communities, which has given him a very personal experience and commitment to their mission.

The Joe Warner Patient Advocacy Award is bestowed to AHCA/NCAL members who have worked directly to educate members of Congress about the needs of long term and post-acute care patients and to advance quality care. The award recognizes long term care professionals who possess the same compassion for – and commitment to – the nation's elderly and individuals with disabilities that exemplified the work of former president and CEO of Illinois-based Heritage Enterprises, Joe Warner.

Congressional Briefing runs through Tuesday, June 4 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.