Long-term care commission's work unlikely to fuel changes

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LeadingAge's Larry Minnix
LeadingAge's Larry Minnix

The fiscal cliff avoidance deal seems to prove an adage about politics being the art of compromise. But as tradeoffs go, long-term care providers didn't fare too badly.

An automatic 2% Medicare payment cut was avoided, as were physician payment reductions. Wins also were racked up in areas such as therapy caps and bed taxes.

In fact, the only real defeat for the industry was that the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act was officially terminated.

Even here, the defeat was not total: In return, a national long-term care commission will be set up.

Its 15 members will look for ways to improve service delivery and payments. But chances of the panel acting as a catalyst for change are slim: The group is being hastily put together and must report recommendations within six months. Moreover, Congress is under no obligation to respond to its findings. 

According to most analysts, the commission is likely to develop a comprehensive report that will do little more than gather dust. 

In fact, the real fight in the short term is likely to be over raising the nation's debt limit. In an all-too-familiar development, President Obama and GOP leaders in Congress have dug in on opposing sides of the issue once again. 

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