A 'promising' new year

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It’s the New Year, otherwise known as resolution time—the season to hit the gym five days a week, read more books and be nicer to your mother-in-law. At least until the end of January, that is.

Since it is tradition to set goals and map out a course of action for the year ahead, I thought I’d take the liberty to offer a few resolutions of my own for long-term care stakeholders. Well, since I’m making these resolutions on behalf of long-term care, maybe “wish list” is a more appropriate description.  (And no, these are not binding resolutions.)

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: I resolve to work with nursing homes to improve the survey and certification process to make it as fair, consistent and transparent as possible. I also will continue to talk to nursing homes about the five-star rating system and be open to areas of improvement. Further, I will strive to implement policies for long-term care that are reasonable and sensible. (For example, if I decide to again recalibrate Medicare payment rates for skilled nursing facilities as I did in 2008, I will make sure they are based on sound research.)

Congress: I resolve to enact laws that are fair to nursing homes as well as consumers and not knee-jerk responses to media reports. I will research topics such as private nursing home ownership and nursing home care quality and costs. I will consult with nursing homes on the language of the Nursing Home Transparency and Quality of Care Improvement Act of 2008 before attempting to vote on it.

President-elect Barack Obama: Amidst all of my other obligations and responsibilities, I resolve to make sure states are financially equipped to handle the needs of seniors. I also will keep the needs of this population group as well as long-term care in mind in enacting healthcare reform.

Regulators: I resolve to keep informed about survey and certification rules, and judge facilities based only on solid facts and evidence. I also pledge to have an open and honest line of communication with the facilities under my purview throughout the year.

Nursing homes: I resolve to recommit myself to offering the best care possible to all of my residents and providing a pleasant work environment and quality of life for all of my employees. I also resolve to keep an open and honest relationship with surveyors throughout the year to avoid being caught off-guard during survey time.

Maybe I better stop here. Ah, resolutions. If only they were as easy to implement as they are to make!
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McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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