For long-term care reformers, it’s move it or lose it

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It’s another big week for long-term care providers on Capitol Hill.

Starting tomorrow, the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill will be humming with members of the American Health Care Association. The two-day Congressional Briefing will feature speakers and receptions—but make no mistake. Providers are coming to Washington for one primary reason: to lobby their lawmakers.

Later this week, the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging will be sponsoring its third Congressional Call-In Day.

These events and the AHCA briefing, in particular, hold a unique sense of urgency. The reason is because of the healthcare reform debate that is beginning to swirl faster than a cyclone in Washington.

Long-term care providers are feeling the pressure to seize the day. They don’t want to look back knowing they had squandered an opportunity to leave their imprint on what could be landmark healthcare reform legislation.

And they are right. The “now or never” mantra for healthcare reform is almost deafening.

Larry Minnix, CEO and president of AAHSA, rallies his troops to action this way:

“We need a big rock to get long-term services and supports included in health reform," he said in his weekly newsletter to members today. "All of us need to think of ourselves as diplomats.”

While it has appeared bleak for long-term care, things have begun to look up with a health reform plan recently put forth from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) that Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) chairs. It includes a nod to long-term care services and supports (at last!) with a plan to create a national insurance model. A plan with Medicare and Medicaid provisions also is expected from Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT).

The government actions that long-term care has been waiting for may be just ahead. Let’s hope. But just to be safe, you better call, or write, or e-mail.

And if we can trust the buzz in Washington, you better do it soon.
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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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