Some people and things just aren’t going to get along.

Take Microsoft and Apple, Ford and Chevrolet, Pepsi and Coke. And that’s not counting the thousands of storied rivalries in sports and politics.

But on occasion, form breaks. It wasn’t long ago, after all, that even presidents Biden and Trump exchanged compliments

One could understandably be tempted to put nursing home operators and their primary overseers, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, in the first camp. If there’s anything that gives providers heartburn along with wide-eyed plaintiff’s attorneys, the letters C-M-S would have to be involved.

But last week proved that even SNFs and CMS could appear in the latter group.

It was providers, after all, who were set back on their heels — in a good way — when CMS finally unveiled the final fiscal 2023 pay rule. Instead of the previously threatened hundreds of millions of dollars haircut on next year’s pay rates and one-time thump on the head for incidental overpayments under the Patient Driven Payment Model, providers received a little love. 

OK, it might not have been downright affection and adoration, but it was at least some empathy.

All anyone wants in this world is to be heard. The feds showed that they had done just that and recognized the desperate scenarios being put before them. Providers staged a massive campaign to show that facilities were closing or cutting back services in frightening numbers, and that payment recalibrations could not possibly be weathered all at once.

In fact, within the final pay rule it issued last Friday (July 29), CMS outright stated that the potential carnage to nursing homes and the industry in general made them sit up and worry. So the agency felt it had to back off. Delaying action after a provider lobbying campaign isn’t entirely unprecedented, but you certainly don’t see that every day.

So in the spirit of taking any kind of victory you can, providers should be riding a little higher this week, and into the future. 

True, as the fearless watchdogs at LeadingAge pointed out, the industry is not really ready for any kind of funding retrenchment. But one thing is clear: Things could be much worse. And it pays — pun intended — to start working and hoping now for the next unexpected good news.

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.