With so many political changes to consider, keep your eyes on this

James M. Berklan
James M. Berklan

Judging recent national political events by any measure, one can come to a seemingly obvious conclusion: A lot of change is in the air.

The ballot boxes told us as much in November. The winners — and losers, for that matter — continue to trumpet that things aren't going to stay the same. Repeal. Replace. Amend. Go ahead and pick your favorite term(s).

But what a lot of people aren't talking about is this: Those things that aren't going to change. For long-term care providers, this is critical.

Yes, you have an incoming administration and Congress that portend to be gentler on the regulatory front. How to manage lighter regulation or how to revert to easier times might seem your biggest concern.

But whether you're Republican, Democrat or Sanders, there are still hard dollars-and-cents truths to face. For all providers, that means strained reimbursements. Pilot projects aimed at bringing down costs -- i.e. your payments. And demands for greater cooperation with fellow providers. The pursuit of quality. These and many other common needs aren't changing.

This type of movement has been in place a long time — almost when Barack was still Barry and certainly before he decided to run for president. And it will continue when he's out of office. In real terms, it means get used to the concepts, if not exact formats, of accountable care organizations and bundled payments, and analyses of how to do “more with less.” See? Some things definitely won't change.

The difference is, in post-acute care's case, we're talking about moving people to less-structured settings as early as payers can get away with it. That has implications for every level of provider, be it acute-care, inpatient, post-acute, long-term care, assisted living or home care.

That intertwined-fate thing isn't going away. So you better continue polishing those networking skills and keep working to improve your outcomes.

One particular report in the January issue of the journal Health Affairs provides an excellent example: “ACO-Affiliated Hospitals Reduced Rehospitalizations From Skilled Nursing Facilities Faster Than Other Hospitals.” The title is an eye-opener to any budget-conscious professional. That means you — and it also means the people paying you.

Whether you worked for a Bush or an Obama or will for a Trump, you're not going to be able to turn away from programs that bring cost savings, especially when it comes to healthcare.

Keep an eye on things that are changing. But also don't forget those that aren't.

Follow James M. Berklan @JimBerklan.


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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 Emily Mongan.

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