Leonard Russ, board chairman, American Health Care Association
Leonard Russ, board chairman, American Health Care Association

The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living will soon face their “most formidable challenge of all,” in delivering a proposal for payment reform to Congress, chairman of the board of governors Leonard Russ told attendees at the organization’s annual convention in San Antonio on Monday.

The proposed system, dubbed the Bundled SNF-Stay Prospective Payment System, was designed to be a “viable, proactive and comprehensive vision for payment reform,” said Mike Cheek, the senior vice president for reimbursement policy and legal affairs for AHCA/NCAL during an educational session on payment reform.

The system would replace the existing prospective payment system, and move from a per diem model to a single episodic payment for an entire Part A SNF stay. The model originated from a need for the long-term care industry to “take control of its destiny,” and would allow SNFs to provide care with fewer regulatory requirements than are associated with the current system, officials said.

“Armed with the success stories of the millions we’ve helped, we will convince Congress there is a better and more cost-effective way to serve the nation’s Medicare beneficiaries,” Russ said during the convention’s opening general session.

AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson lauded the work of certified nursing assistants on the “front lines” during his general session address. He welcomed four dedicated CNAs from Iowa and Oklahoma onto the stage, each of whom at one point or another had walked miles to work, sometimes through blizzard conditions, after their cars had broken down. The stirring moment received a lengthy standing ovation from the capacity crowd.

General Stanley McChrystal, a retired U.S. army general who oversaw the Joint Special Operations Command during key operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, served as the keynote speaker of the general session. He highlighted leadership strategies and how they have needed to evolve and adapt in recent years.

The 66th AHCA/NCAL Convention & Expo continues through Wednesday.