Time for long-term care to take a lesson from the NRA?

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John O'Connor
John O'Connor

Each year, long-term care operators provide needed services to millions of mostly old, mostly frail people. They help residents live better lives than would otherwise be possible.

Providers also give House and Senate members great photo opportunities during campaign seasons. That's on top of helping lawmakers keep their jobs by taking care of the people who vote for them, and their children.

So you'd think Congress would be doing everything possible to make long-term care operators happier — or at least less miserable. That's hardly the case.

It's funny, most of the time, Congress gets along about as well as the Hatfields and the McCoys. But if there is one thought that seems to unify our elected officials, it's this: Nursing homes and other providers must be receiving too many tax dollars.

How else to explain their constant need to demand and enact funding cuts? If it's not extending Medicare sequester reductions, it's limiting therapy payments. Or looking for ways to trim Medicaid outlays. Talk about ingrates.

The long-term care field might want to take a lesson from an organization that doesn't take any guff from lawmakers: the National Rifle Association. Regardless of how you feel about the organization's policies or tactics, you have to admit they aren't patsies.

The NRA's approach is simple but effective: Fight any real or perceived threat tooth and claw. And never, ever give an inch. Hundreds of teenagers getting shot to death in Chicago each year by handguns? That's too bad. Second Amendment says you can't make a law that limits gun sales.

Think .50-caliber military-grade bullets shouldn't be sold in stores? Sorry but such limits are against the Constitution.

You think the Second Amendment is outdated? Get voters in 35 states to approve a corrective amendment and then we'll talk.

The NRA's view is that the smallest concession will trigger a downward cascade that won't stop until patriots have their lawfully protected firearms taken away. So they're simply not going to give in.

On the contrary, many lawmakers have learned all too well what happens when they get sideways with the NRA. Their phone lines and fax machines are inundated with irate messages, letters are sent to editors, protest rallies are assembled if needed, and PAC funds are quickly redirected elsewhere. And that's just for starters. Severe? Perhaps. But guess what? It works.

So maybe it's time to start treating Congress less like benefactors and more like what they are — people who need us as much as we need them.

John O'Connor is Editorial Director at McKnight's.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editor's Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor on Monday and Friday; Staff Writer Tim Mullaney on Tuesday, Editor James M. Berklan on Wednesday and Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman on Thursday.

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