John O'Connor, editorial director, McKnight's Long-Term Care News
John O’Connor, editorial director, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News

If you’re like most operators, you’re probably staggering toward the end-of-year holidays. And your unsteady gait may have nothing to do with spiked eggnog.

This year has had more than its share of seismic jolts: CMS changed its Medicare payment rules, the CLASS Act was put on life support, the National Labor Relations Board seemed to overdose on goofy pills, and the Congressional “super committee” proved to be all too human — just to name a few “highlights.”

Then there’s that little matter of what’s looming. By all indications, Medicare and Medicaid will be subject to more belt-tightening, regulatory benchmarks will again be ratcheted up, and providers will face a dizzying array of do-or-die strategic choices. But if I may repeat the words Hyman Roth famously uttered in the Godfather: “This is the business we’ve chosen.”

Providing long-term care has never been easy. From Day One, regulatory, payment and policy constraints have been nipping at providers. Fortunately, this field is overpopulated with bright, committed, resilient people. Time and time again, operators have figured out how to survive and sometimes thrive.

And by the way, caregivers in this field also helped make life better for more than 1.5 million people in 2011. When you put that benchmark against any negative developments, only one conclusion is possible: It was a very good year.

Happy holidays.