As our long national nightmare known as the 2012 presidential election recedes into history, skilled nursing providers and industry experts are stepping forward to assess the national healthcare landscape in light of President Obama’s re-election. If any good came out of this year’s interminable campaign it was the spotlight on senior care and skilled nursing that will only grow in intensity as millions of baby boomers hurtle toward senior citizenship.
Meanwhile, industry advocates show no sign of letting down their guard post-election with calls to avert Medicare sequestration in light of the looming “fiscal cliff,” which threatens to impose a whopping 2 percent payment cut. Just days after the election, The American Health Care Association (AHCA) launched round two of ad buys aimed at defeating the Medicare cuts outlined in the sequestration. And speaking at its annual convention last month, AHCA president Mark Parkinson urged LTC providers to lobby at both the state and federal levels, adding that “even after sequestration, after bad debt, after healthcare reform, after state Medicaid cuts, after regulation changes, Congress is again looking at us—looking at provider taxes, market baskets, therapy caps, and even bad debt again.”
The clarion call to action grows ever louder: In addition to lobbying their local lawmakers, providers must best position their organizations to serve a rapidly changing healthcare system or face demise. (William Day, president of St. Barnabas Health System, Gibsonia, Pa., projects that as many as 50 percent of hospitals and nursing homes will close due to Medicare cuts.) The survivors will need to become even leaner than they already are, and innovate, innovate, innovate.
Innovation can take a variety of forms, including strategies to reduce rehospitalization rates (and promoting that success to acute care providers); tailoring care capabilities (such as cardiac rehab and memory support); and championing the use of technology, including electronic medical records.
What are you doing to best position your organization to survive in these uncertain times? Write or call me with your thoughts. We'll share the best of them with your LTC colleagues.