Nursing home chief: An Obama victory would be better

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Nursing home chief: An Obama victory would be better
Nursing home chief: An Obama victory would be better

Hours before the final presidential debate started Monday, LeadingAge President and CEO Larry Minnix made it clear whom he thought long-term care providers need to vote for. While not outright campaigning for President Obama, Minnix said the incumbent's policies would be better for the future of the profession than those proposed by his challenger, Mitt Romney.

“The race is very much paying attention to our issues,” Minnix said to a media gathering at his group's annual meeting Monday at the Denver Convention Center. “Obama's agenda is continuing forward with the Affordable Care Act. Our organization supports the ACA. The early signs are it is making a difference” with things such as community–based care, housing services and PACE programs.

A Romney presidency “would mean more dramatic [funding] cuts downstream,” Minnix added. “Most nursing homes are not reimbursed adequately now. What [the Republican platform has] put out we can't fathom.What we've seen so far of the numbers, [their] things are worse. The ACA might not be perfect, but we've seen some things we like.”

If Obama does win in November, Minnix said he is hopeful for new life for the CLASS Act, the first-ever government long-term care benefit that has survived repeal efforts but has been put in “an induced coma.”

“It's beginning to get some interest from the administration, and from Republicans as well as Democrats [in Congress],” Minnix explained. “Now some [Republican] leaders behind the scenes, who don't want to be quoted, say, ‘Yeah, we have to do something about it.'”

The status quo for long-term care funding won't be sufficient going forward, Minnix emphasized: “You can't throw enough money at the current system to make it work. We believe our only way out is innovation. We support that.” To that end, Minnix says, providers “have to be more visible crucibles of innovation."

Amid all the funding threats and political drama, the LeadingAge top exec said there are numerous reasons for optimism. He said a recent provider survey netted about 600 responses and only about three operators questioned whether their operations would “survive.” The other feedback ranged from, “We're getting through it to we're having the best year we've had,” Minnix noted.

Also on Monday, Minnix said that later this week LeadingAge would formally announce that it had created a new position: senior vice president for philanthropy. This executive would be brought on board to help stimulate grants and donations, he said.

The convention concludes Wednesday.

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