Promising signs on the regulatory front
If there is one thing operators would like to see more of, it's fewer regulations. Virtually no other business is so closely monitored or controlled.
Fortunately, both President Trump and a GOP-controlled Congress appear to have embraced the less-is-better concept.
“We've cut more regulations than any president in history,” President Trump said during an interview with Mike Huckabee on Oct. 7. While the truth of that statement can be debated, Trump's intentions cannot. Less than two weeks after being sworn in, he signed an executive order directing agencies to eliminate two regulations for every new one introduced. Now there's a guy who is no fan of red tape.
Closer to home, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is now requesting provider feedback on ways to trim regulations in ways that improve care. The implication seems to be that good ideas will be acted on. That can't happen soon enough.
It's hardly a revelation that the long-term care field is receptive to these kinds of developments. And you don't have to have skin in this game to see why oversight is getting to be a bit, well, ridiculous. Any way you slice it, the oversight expansion we've seen in recent decades has clearly taken a toll on efficiency, caregiving quality and the sector's ability to adapt.
But if we are going to be brutally honest, these regulations did not just fall from the sky. For the most part, they came in response to egregious practices by operators. And while it is convenient to blame an uncaring, tone-deaf government for excessive oversight, that's hardly the whole story.
Every field has its share of bad apples. But long-term care is not in the business of making widgets. It has the awesome task of caring for people bereft of the ability and/or means to care for themselves.
Mistakes on the factory floor can lead to defective products; mistakes in a facility can lead to hospitalizations, or worse.
Fortunately, providing good care is a responsibility that the great majority of operators in this field take to heart. Most, but not all.
And it is those few outliers who we can largely thank for our current state of regulatory excess.
So let's get rid of the bad regulations. But while we're at it, maybe we should give some thought to the operators who keep inspiring them.
John O'Connor is McKnight's Editorial Director.