Bold moves that won't do long-term care any favors

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John O'Connor
John O'Connor

By most accounts, the election of Donald J. Trump as our 45th President has been great news for long-term care operators.

Since he took office, many regulations have been watered down, most enforcement agencies have been defanged and a new federal budget is trimming the industry's taxes by billions of dollars.

Not bad for a year's worth of work.

But amid these various success stories, a serious misstep may be in the works. I'm referring to an effort by the White House to end Temporary Protected Status for Haitians. In case you haven't heard, Haitians using TPS now have until July 22 to get out of the United States or face deportation.

But as a practical matter, that's just one part of a larger theme. For it's no secret that the current administration is cracking down on legal and illegal immigrants in ways that are unlikely to be inscribed onto the Statue of Liberty.

I realize that immigration is one of those issues where passions run hot on both sides. And I really don't want to wade into those choppy waters.

So let's just stick with cause and effect. Giving millions of immigrants what amounts to an eviction notice will have an unmistakable result: It will dramatically reduce the labor pool of frontline workers available to work in long-term care settings.

Across our nation, about a million immigrants provide care to the elderly as nurse assistants, home health aides and personal care attendants, according to the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute.

As challenging as staffing has become in this field, imagine how much worse it might be if many of those same caregivers were to suddenly leave.

Will Americans who have never had much of a taste for this kind of low-pay/high-effort work suddenly line up to fill the void? If history is any indication, probably not.

By all accounts, the labor shortage facing this sector is only going to worsen, regardless. President Trump may want to reconsider actions that exacerbate that problem.

John O'Connor is McKnight's Editorial Director.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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