Tax bill reveals a great divide in long-term care

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John O'Connor
John O'Connor

One of the more interesting aspects of the epic battle that has been waged over the Senate's tax overhaul bill has been this sector's response. One major long-term care organization has continued to blast proposed changes while the other has remained largely silent.

LeadgingAge has clearly been one of the bill's more fervent critics. The association has repeatedly claimed the GOP tax rewrite will eviscerate future support for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In correspondence sent to Senate lawmakers last week, LeadingAge warned of dire consequences.

“Any significant funding cuts to Medicaid would jeopardize health and long-term care for the more than 6 million low-income older adults who rely on Medicaid. In addition, significant Medicare cuts would shift costs on to beneficiaries, endangering the more than 57 million older adults and people with disabilities,” the missive notes.

Two things make that letter particularly noteworthy. One is that it was co-signed by more than 40 groups. The other is that the largest organization in the skilled care sector was not one of them.

Then again, it's probably not too hard to see why. After all, most of the American Health Care Association's members are for-profits. As such, they stand to gain from one of the plan's main pillars, a huge reduction in the nation's 35% corporate tax rate. The new rate will likely be around 20%, possibly a bit higher.

But any way you slice it, that's quite a tax break.

Does that make one association good and the other evil? Hardly. Both organizations are full of hardworking, dedicated members trying to make life better for people who cannot fully take care of themselves. And to be fair, nonprofits get tax breaks that others can only dream about.

In the past two decades, the for- and nonprofit long-term care players have found much more common ground. And in many ways, they now speak with one voice.

In many ways, but not all. For as this tax bill shows, the long-term care sector still remains a house divided.

John O'Connor is McKnight's Editorial Director.

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Daily Editors' Notes

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 Marty Stempniak.

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