Monday, November 15, 2010

A Year for the History Books

November 15, 2010

Advocating for Quality Care
This past year was full of challenges for long term and post-acute care providers. Yet with these challenges also came opportunities for new growth, new directions and expanded development. Garnering controversy and praise for months, health care reform dominated the airwaves and affected all of us in more ways than one. But reform was just one part of the story. The 2010 AHCA/NCAL Annual Report, Advocating for Quality Care, includes highlights for our profession from throughout the year, including workforce, quality, facility operations and more. Specific highlights include:

•    Health Care Reform: AHCA/NCAL advocated for the incorporation of many key issues into reform, such as a partial Part D fix, a national health care workforce commission, and establishment of a national center for better health care workforce analysis. Of course, all was not positive with the new law, and implementation of health care reform saw many difficulties. AHCA responded by creating the Health Care Reform Resource Center. An online clearinghouse of information, the Center has over 30 in-depth impact/analysis/policy papers and 23 guidance/regulatory entries.

•    Public Opinion and Medicaid Funding: In June, AHCA released findings of a poll by the Mellman Group which established that Americans, by significant margins, strongly supported passage of federal Medicaid relief and vehemently opposed any additional state Medicaid cuts. Taking into account the fact the Medicaid program already under funds the cost of providing care by at least $4.2 billion annually (according to Eljay LLC, a company specializing in Medicare and Medicaid payment and funding issues for nursing facilities)  the stage was set for the Driving for Quality Care RV Tour. The tour brought this message across the country and urged Congress to pass additional enhanced FMAP funding. Our success came quickly – enhanced FMAP was passed in August.

•    Quality: Through a coalition, AHCA was instrumental in developing the report, Patient in Pain: How the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Rules Harm Patients in Nursing Facilities. For the second consecutive year, AHCA—in partnership with the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care— released an Annual Quality Report, assessing the challenging dynamic of the nation’s rehabilitation and skilled nursing facilities and trends in quality, showcasing that we have improved on 16 of 26 quality indicators.

The Report, now available online, also reviews grassroots and PAC activities, member services, and legislative and regulatory issues.

2010 is indeed a year for the history books. Never before have we seen so much change politically coupled with a singular emphasis and focus on health care policy in Washington. As we reflect on these opportunities, we stand ready to tackle the challenges ahead so that providers can continue the hard work of caring for our nation’s frail, elderly and disabled.

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