Miss Dudlicek was right: There are at least two sides to this nursing home story

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John O'Connor
John O'Connor

 

When I was 16, "All the President's Men" was released. As you may know, it depicts how two callow but persistent Washington Post reporters helped unlock the Watergate scandal — and bring down the Nixon presidency.

The firm helped convince yours truly and many others that journalism was a worthy and noble calling. In retrospect, a film about enterprising CPAs might have been a lot better for our collective 401ks.

Regardless, my class took in the film as part of a field trip, which meant our teacher was obligated to talk about the basics of the scrivener's craft afterward. One of the things Miss Dudlicek kept telling us in the post-mortem is that there are at least two sides to every story, sometimes more.

I was reminded of her gentle reminder this week, thanks to an organization calling itself the Long Term Care Community Coalition. It released a statement that basically says all the gains the nursing home sector has been celebrating lately are just about the worst thing imaginable.

Reduced regulations? Terrible.

Arbitration obligation? Awful.

Dialed-down rules enforcement? The worst.

Ah yes, that other side of the story.

Given how our general political discourse has played out lately, here's what we can probably look forward to: Each side digging in, refusing to listen to anything off script, and taking every possible action to demonize the opposition.

Which is unfortunate. For in reality, both sides have legitimate points to make. Skilled care operators are rightfully sick of rules and regulations that keep escalating. They feel vulnerable to lawsuits that can put them out of business. And most are trying to do well while doing good.

Consumer-y groups are right to point out the rampant abuses that regularly occur. And the suggestion that the industry is attempting to bribe its way out of accountability is not exactly a hypothetical.

In a more civilized world, both sides would sit down and hash out their disagreements. In the end, a compromise would result in which each would give a bit to get a bit. But we don't live in that world right now, do we?

Instead, it will probably come down to which camp can “convince” the most lawmakers to buy its talking points. Yes, Miss Dudlicek, there may be two sides to every story. But the side with more clout usually enjoys the happy ending.

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 Marty Stempniak.

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