The new label for people like my parents is the “Silent Generation.” That name has never really sat right for me. It’s almost dismissive of the contributions of that generation of Americans born between the 1920s and early 40s. They may have missed out on Woodstock and Snapchat, but these are the people that saw this nation through the hardships of The Great Depression, fought against fascism in World War II, and guided us through the uncertainties of the Atomic Age. Their works and their voices are not silent and neither should we be when it comes to making sure they are cared for with dignity and compassion.

The political squabbles in Washington have many providers and support businesses on edge and wondering about the future of healthcare and our industry. In the meantime, we still have residents that are depending on us and that are in need of advocates. 

As the partisan battles rage on about Medicaid, Affordable Care Act, and the overwhelming number of regulatory requirements, I feel it is important to keep our main focus on those that we serve and the need to have strong platforms to champion them.

For more than 30 years, I have worked in and around my family’s facilities and LTC support businesses. These are not just companies to us, they have always been a calling to serve others. When I was invited to represent Alabama as a member of the 2016-2017 class for American Health Care Association’s Future Leaders program, I knew this was a tremendous way to help our long-term care providers and residents in my state and the nation. In addition to examining advanced areas of executive leadership and management, the experience educated me about the issues other states are facing and the importance of LTC leaders having a joint presence in Washington, D.C. to advocate for residents and the businesses that serve them. The program also offered the opportunity to engage with lawmakers on important long-term care topics.

Through the American Health Care Association’s political advocacy, I had the chance to meet face-to-face with Congress members in our nation’s capital. This was invaluable in helping us share the full story of our industry. Sometimes, our lawmakers may not know the complete scope of how proposed changes or cuts will directly and indirectly affect people. 

For example, I was able to meet with Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL)and speak to her about how Medicare rules impact patients caught in the difficult middle ground of not being sick enough to stay in the hospital, but unable to afford short-term rehabilitation because it may not be covered by Medicare. I believe our conversation helped her gain more insight about the issue and opened the door to future conversations like this with other lawmakers.

The greatest benefit of the Future Leaders program is that it empowers executives with the training and tools to advocate for our industry on a larger scale. Having a cohort of fellow leaders who have the same priorities as you provides strength in numbers and broadens the field of resources from which you are able to draw wisdom. Although, we can all do our part to advocate for long-term healthcare in various ways such as writing letters to lawmakers or by making phone calls, sometimes it’s not enough to get the point across. Future Leaders helped me learn to amplify my concerns and get them communicated to the right people. I am proud to be a Future Leaders graduate and I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to strengthen my advocacy skills in the program.

As we look forward to the future, I realize that the focus of long-term healthcare is widening to include new regulatory requirements and smarter technologies. With the expected influx of millions more Americans into their senior years over the next few decades, it’s important to keep the conversation going about the most humane and affordable way to care for those who will need it. It is also important to keep the spotlight on the challenges being faced today to ensure that long-term care providers and the government can work together to deliver adequate services. We owe it to those we serve to be their voice.

Bill Turenne is the owner and Chief Executive Officer of Turenne & Associates, LLC, a healthcare service company founded in 1986. The Turenne family includes: Turenne PharMedCo, The Compliance Store, Rehab First and three Five Star facilities: Capitol Hill Healthcare in Montgomery, AL; McGuffey Healthcare in Gadsden, AL; Westside Terrace Healthcare in Dothan, AL.