AARP, an occasional foe for nursing home advocates, is now joining forces with providers in Florida in a bid to together improve care for seniors.

The retired persons interest group announced last week that it is teaming up with both LeadingAge Florida and the state affiliate of the American Health Care Association. Together, they are forming the Coalition for Silver Solutions, which they say is aimed at putting “seniors at the top of the legislative priority list.”

AARP and nursing home trade groups have often been at odds, including over one Florida staffing bill currently being contemplated by legislators. Those involved, however, say past disagreements will not impact their collaboration — which is focused in the near-term on retaining $138 million in Medicaid funding for long-term care.

“People complain about Congress not getting anything done because everyone is so polarized. We take the exact opposite path,” J. Emmett Reed, executive director of the Florida Health Care Association, told McKnight’s Friday. “We’re not going to agree on everything. But I think, when you look at all three of us, you’ve got a group of really good people who want to come up with big solutions.”

Beyond the immediate urgent need to restore Medicaid funding for nursing centers in 2020, the coalition will also have its eye on addressing the industry’s workforce needs, evaluating and improving the regulatory environment in Florida, and making sure that reimbursement levels are adequate in the long-term. They also plan to convene a Silver Summit later this year, ahead of the 2020 legislative session.

At a press conference last week, state Sen. Ben Albritton called this collaboration a “big deal,” and LeadingAge Florida President and CEO Steve Bahmer agrees. He and Reed both hope this could serve as a model for other states to emulate.

“The challenges are big and complicated, and we really do believe that responding to those challenges in a thoughtful way and doing something meaningful is really going to require collaboration, not just between providers and senior organizations like AARP, but also regulators and lawmakers across the spectrum,” Bahmer told McKnight’s.