I can still hear the unintentionally comical exultation in my head now, more than a few decades after it happened.
“Did you see what the Tribune reported?” gushed one of my dad’s best friends.
Sure did, replied I, then a young reporter at a small-ish community newspaper. They saw our report a couple of days ago and finally decided to write about it.
It was always significant news, but now that the big-city newspaper decided to write about it, well now it was real. For what it’s worth, this was years before the internet was used by more than a group of government geeks. And even longer before everybody could put the equivalent of a computer and printing press in the palm of his or her hand every day.
So when the ”important” media outlet said something, well, that was big validation.
Segue to the current day and the way acute-care providers, and hospitals in particular, are discovering that, well, things may be getting pretty expensive. Labor markets are tightening (did you know that?). And adjustments to government reimbursements might be a little slow to react (can you believe it?) to inflation and things such as disastrous pandemic conditions.
In the land of long-term care, these are known all too well, and have been for a very long time. Of course LTC stakeholders were happily surprised by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ recent announcement of Medicare Part A payment increases for fiscal 2023. But it’s only a start, as many warn. This projected $180 billion industry will need a lot more help.
Hospitals now also say they’re glad about their recently announced federal pay raise. But their leading hospital lobbying group says it’s still not going to be enough to cover growing expenses for the $1.4 trillion industry. Staff, food, materials and all that.
Shocking, I know.
This is one case where nursing homes are way ahead of their acute-care big brothers. Nursing facilities, stuck with a far higher percentage of Medicare and Medicaid funding than hospitals, have it worse. Fewer chances to try to make up anything on private-pay patients, for sure.
Yet everyone knows who gets the most attention when these two are compared. No news flash needed there.
So even though inflation is tearing into everybody, to hear hospitals now fretting that even historically healthy government pay raises might not be enough is a bit galling.
But it usually is when the “big” guys get the attention for something the smaller players have already known for a while.
James M. Berklan is McKnight’s Executive Editor.
Opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News columns are not necessarily those of McKnight’s.