New president soon? Big deal

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John O'Connor, Editorial Director
John O'Connor, Editorial Director
With less than a month before Election Day, the fight to determine our next president has hit a fever pitch. By that, I mean both sides are working as never before to smear the other guy.

Negative campaigning has become an essential component of most political races. While they cheapen the attacker, the simple fact is that they work. 

When it comes to Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, it's especially distasteful to watch. After all, both men have overcome long odds to stand at the precipice of the presidency. Each has lived a remarkable life and put a high premium on integrity. In my opinion, each offers a sound choice. 

It would be nice to think that both men are above denigrating the other side, but the people they've entrusted to run their campaigns clearly are not.

Regardless of who wins the most expensive presidential contest in history, the outcome may have little real impact for most long-term care providers. After all, we're electing a president, not selecting a king. Whoever emerges on top is unlikely to have carte blanche access to rewriting our nation's laws, especially if the other party controls Congress.

And one has to wonder how much of a priority long-term care will be for our next president. So far, neither has shown much more than a vague recognition of the long-term care concept (see page 28). 

With two wars to sort out, a sluggish economy, a housing mess and possible inflation concerns, the next resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will likely have a few other more pressing concerns on his mind.

To the extent that healthcare or healthcare reform even gets consideration, it will likely target hospitals and/or physicians first, and then their customers (who are increasingly older people on Medicare).

It really is too bad that long-term care remains largely ignored, if not forgotten. The reality is that this is an issue that in one way or another already affects most Americans. Moreover, incremental changes to our fractured system of delivering and paying for eldercare services would be relatively easy to enact now, before the issue reaches crisis proportions.

But maintenance and solving non-threatening problems have never been the strong suit of Congress or the White House. It usually takes a disaster or the threat of one to get either branch moving.

Fortunately, the time when long-term care is going to have to receive more than lip service is approaching. Unfortunately, worsening challenges are not likely to receive much in the way of attention in the meantime.
So when Nov. 4 arrives, go ahead and help elect the candidate you think will do the best job. I'm sure he'll appreciate your vote. Just don't expect your day job to improve much.