John O'Connor, VP, Associate Publisher, Editorial Director

By all accounts, Paul Ryan is an extremely intelligent, charismatic and likable guy. And I have to believe he’s much happier these days pondering what’s best for the future of the republic. At least when compared to the trials and tribulations endured during his previous gig as House Speaker.

So there was no harm listening to him talk about the future of Medicare and other industry matters Thursday at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care’s spring conference in San Diego.

For his efforts, Ryan was rewarded with hearty applause and a very nice check. All in all, he delivered a pleasant complement to a nice lunch. But if just about everything he said sounded familiar, it’s because we’ve heard this all before.

To the surprise of perhaps nobody in the room, he touted the future of Medicare Advantage, defended Medicaid block grants, lauded the escalation of public-private partnerships and stressed the importance of patient-centered care.

To be blunt, many of the less-heralded people in the room have been the ones addressing this stuff and layering on a lot more context lately. And with all due respect, there is a huge difference between living, eating and breathing the realities of senior living, versus flying in to share a few talking points.

So for my money, I’d rather listen to the likes of Anne Tumlinson, Lynne Katzmann, Tom Grape and Kurt Read, to name but a few alternatives. All these “lesser knowns” spoke on the current state and future direction of the field. Moreover, they are more familiar with the nuts-and-bolts realities that can spell the difference between success and failure.  And it’s not just them. In fact, virtually every moderator and panelist participating in last week’s sessions was worth a listen.

And that’s to say nothing of the folks from NIC. People like Brian Jurutka, Bob Kramer, Beth Mace, Chuck Harry, Bill Kauffman and others. You want to know where things are going and what you should be doing to get ready? Then these are the people you need to be listening to.

They may not be household names. But they sure can help get your house in order.

John O’Connor is McKnight’s Editorial Director.