WASHINGTON — The annual spring lobbying rush led by the nation’s largest nursing home association is underway.

Today, hundreds of providers will be petitioning dozens of their respective lawmakers about uncertainties concerning the sector’s new payment system, workforce worries, a spate of facility closures and more.

Monday, the event kicked off with hopeful comments from American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living President and CEO Mark Parkinson. An avowed data enthusiast, he urged providers to instead regale their respective lawmakers with vivid resident success stories for best effect.

“In every one of your buildings across the country, there are literally thousands of acts of kindness and love raking place. There are endearing residents who have amazing stories,” he noted. “When you go on the [Capitol] Hill, don’t just talk about data.

“Talk about the resident who came to your building and might not have thought they would walk again and after rehab was able to walk again and get home. [Or about] the person who came in and had a goal to survive to see their great-grandchild live, or to celebrate an anniversary. There are literally thousands of stories from your buildings. There’s stuff we should be proud of.”

Parkinson explained that unlike past years where he and AHCA staff had to implore members to lobby hard over issues that might threaten the sector’s core health, this year there is an opportunity to conduct congressional visits under more comfortable circumstances.

“We’ve had a pretty good run in D.C. The results have been good,” Parkinson assessed. “On the Medicare and Medicaid side, we’re actually pretty excited. Although it’s been somewhat hit and miss, we’ve had pretty good success across the country on Medicaid rates.

“It continues to be a super challenging time,” he added. “I’m hoping that we’re on that slight uptick for better days.”

Also at Monday’s late afternoon gathering, the association handed out a pair of Joe Warner Patient Advocacy Awards to veteran provider advocates.

Honored for extremely long records of service were former AHCA board chair and valued Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services conduit, Leonard Russ, the owner/administrator of Bayberry Health Care in New York, and Nanci Wilson, the chief clinical officer and government affairs leader for Plum Healthcare Group.