On the heels of victories such as the newly signed IMPACT Act, providers are ready to more aggressively push for their interests on Capitol Hill, leaders of the nation’s largest long-term care trade association said Monday in Washington, D.C.

Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, was in attendance at the White House when President Barack Obama signed the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act into law Monday afternoon. Both AHCA and LeadingAge, which was represented by President and CEO Larry Minnix in the Oval Office, helped formulate key provisions of the legislation, under which different types of post-acute providers will begin submitting standardized assessment data in 2019. The theory is that this will support a more equitable payment system.

In conjunction with the signing of the IMPACT Act, the government announced changes to the Five Star rating system for nursing homes. Among them are nationwide audits to check the quality ratings for accuracy. Also, each facility’s antipsychotic medication rate will be included starting in January. A highly critical New York Times article in August raised questions about Five Star, including whether facilities’ self-reported data is accurate.

Earlier in the day, Parkinson addressed attendees at the association’s annual convention. AHCA has “played defense” to win favorable outcomes on proposals regarding provider taxes, Medicare reimbursement, assisted living regulations and other issues, and now is in a position to be “offensive,” he said. This will include creating and advocating for a comprehensive new payment model. He also forcefully opposed new assisted living regulations that he says “some believe” are necessary, which would be “as bad or worse” than current SNF regulations.

“Overregulation is the enemy of person-centered care,” he said, earning applause.

General Colin Powell, former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the keynote speaker. After joking that he loves the “socialized medicine” he has been receiving through the Armed Forces, he said that the United States must find some way of implementing universal healthcare, “whether you call it Obamacare or something else.”

He also encouraged long-term care providers to advocate for immigration reform, noting that immigrants already are widely employed in this sector and will become increasingly important members of facility staffs. 

The AHCA/NCAL annual convention continues through Wednesday at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center.