By most accounts, providers seem generally happy with the new Medicare system for classifying residents and payments.
Since the Patient Driven Payment Model took effect in October, not a single one has been talked off a ledge. Quite a few others are quietly counting new dollars they never expected.
Some skilled care providers have even been spotted doing something rarely seen during regular business hours: smiling. Maybe that’s because relief always trumps pain. It’s almost as if they prepared for a hurricane and sunny weather arrived instead.
Still, it’s early. And as they say in baseball, nobody won the World Series in April. For those unfamiliar with the game’s colorful idioms, let me rephrase: We’ll need a more respectable sample size before we conclude PDPM is good for business.
Not that such a warning is original. American Health Care Association President and CEO Mark Parkinson cautioned against irrational exuberance in early September, when he spoke at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care’s fall conference.
“I’m really urging the investment community that if we have an increase (in earnings) in the aggregate, do not refinance on that,” Parkinson said half-jokingly. But only half-jokingly.
For as we have all learned, a lot can happen between now and whatever follows.
Payment rates could get recalibrated. New rules might be added. The economy and competitors might alter the rules of the road. The Eeyore-inspired list of potential woe is practically endless.
Still, it must be said that things are off to a good start overall. In fact, some of the communities that pink slipped their therapy teams in early October might be having second thoughts right about now.
So let’s enjoy the good news while it lasts. And hope it lasts more than a while.
John O’Connor is McKnight’s Editorial Director.