'Tis the season to feel oppressed

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Elizabeth Leis Newman
Elizabeth Leis Newman

Should there be any doubt that some long-term care providers have a persecution complex, it's evident in a response to Tim Mullaney's blog Tuesday.

Mullaney wrote a blog in the holiday spirit, a Come-to-Jesus call if you will, asking long-term care providers to thoughtfully reflect on what they have in common with federal workers.

The first comment on the blog reminded us that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is the Gestapo and that long-term care providers essentially work in Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia.

Which was shocking, because if CMS has started rounding up long-term care providers and putting millions of them on trains to death camps, or Marilyn Tavenner is about to execute anyone who disagrees with her, I really need to read the memos from the agency more carefully.

There are some that would argue that hyperbole is a natural part of our democratic process in arguing about public policy. I would agree with Godwin's Law: Once you start comparing people to Nazis, you've lost the argument. As Godwin himself has said, his point is get people to think a bit more carefully about the Holocaust. From a more practical standpoint, comparing yourself to an oppressed group rarely works, because people stop listening. If you want someone to take you seriously in your legitimate criticisms of how the federal government treats seniors or long-term care, do a better job in framing your argument.

I know that is no small challenge. No one in the industry disagrees that CMS can be a hungry shark of an agency, and that long-term care providers are little fish trying to stay out of its way. I often refer to long-term care as being seen as the red-headed stepchild in the healthcare family, which I'm sure may offend some stepchildren and those who are red-headed.

It's worth remembering when you argue for your cause that you are not alone. Teachers, small business owners, factory workers and social workers are all groups that come to mind as feeling overworked and underpaid, and generally underappreciated. But like them, most of the people in the long-term care feel they were called to the profession, often by a higher power, and know they are doing hard but meaningful work.

Plus, if you get tired of it or if someone gets tired of you, you can change professions, move to another country, or retire. As opposed to, say, being persecuted for your religion and sent to Dachau.

Elizabeth Newman is Senior Editor at McKnight's. Follow her @TigerELN.


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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.