'Tis nursing home conference season
It's hard to believe we're in the midst of another conference season. The American Health Care Association's annual meeting already has passed and the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging's is about a week away.
Like every year, there is no shortage of important topics to discuss and learn about at these conferences. The most obvious on everyone's minds—especially after its tumultuous start—is MDS 3.0. I predict AAHSA members will be champing at the bit to find out exactly went wrong at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
There are some other important items on the agenda. A lame-duck session of Congress is set to begin mid-November. AAHSA likely will be prodding providers to contact their members of Congress about the Medicare therapy caps exceptions process (which is set to expire at the end of the year). It also may want providers to nudge lawmakers to repeal the delay of the RUG-IV system. Yes, the latter still could happen, folks!
And what's always fun about the conferences is the news that comes from them. AHCA, for example, introduced its new president, Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson at its meeting in Long Beach, CA. AAHSA, with its upcoming name change to LeadingAge, has some news of its own to tout. (For you first-timers, the AAHSA conference, which will be held in Los Angeles, also offers some fun sideshows. It is bringing back its Chef Challenge cooking contest, Idea House and student design competition.)
AHCA's conference offered a wealth of interesting information and insights into happenings in the field. Judging from past conferences, I know AAHSA's will offer no less.
Lest we forget, amid the conference season is election season (Election Day is Nov. 2). This is a particularly exciting one, as many seats are up for grabs. Tea Party candidates could surge in several districts around the country.
Here are a few mid-term election stats for you political buffs out there:
—The chamber currently is composed of 57 Democrats, 41 Republicans and two Independents.
—A total of 36 Senate seats are up for election (18 held by Democrats and 18 held by Republicans).
—Six Republicans are retiring (Jim Bunning, KY; Christopher Bond, MO; Judd Gregg, NH; George Voinovich, OH; George LeMieux, FL; Sam Brownback, KS).
—Six Democrats are retiring (Christopher Dodd, CT; Ted Kaufman, DE; Roland Burris, IL; Evan Bayh, IN; Byron Dorgan, ND; and Carte Goodwin, WV, who filled the seat of Robert Byrd).
—The chamber comprises 258 Democrats and 177 Republicans.
—All 435 seats are up for election.
—Eighteen Democrats are retiring.
—Twenty-one Republicans are retiring.
Since long-term care doesn't lean strictly Democrat or Republican (it depends on the issue), it may be a good idea to support both candidates in your area. After all, you'll need lawmakers of both parties to come out in favor of Medicare market-basket increases.