Fighting for the interests of skilled nursing providers

Cynthia Morton pulls no punches when talking about the bum rap long-term care gets in the never-ending battle for healthcare dollars. As executive vice president for the National Association for the Support of Long Term Care (NASL), Morton is a lobbyist on Capitol Hill who has spent much of her career advocating for the skilled nursing industry.

Morton maintains that while the perceptions of long-term care are changing (“When it becomes personal to members of Congress, dealing with their own aging parents, they start to understand…”), the proof is in the funding. In that regard the outlook is pretty dismal for skilled nursing, “where we’re charged with caring for the Greatest Generation,” she says.

Speaking today at a conference in Cleveland for users of eHealth Data Solutions, Morton addressed the uphill fight providers face in the light of heated political rhetoric over entitlements and in grabbing a piece of the budget pie from the powerful physician and hospital lobbying groups. And as the day of reckoning approaches—August 2, when the U.S. debt ceiling is slated to be hit—Morton says to look for increasing pressure on legislators to further cut Medicaid. (Legislators are more likely to take an axe to Medicaid than Medicare as it’s easier for them to pass along the burden to the states to deal with—although the governors will go ballistic.”)

Morton dismisses the influence of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) in the era of healthcare reform. “ACOs are turning out to be a nothing burger for nursing homes,” she says. “Payment bundling is going to be our real issue.

“CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] made such a big deal about it but post-acute care gets next to no mention in discussions,” she continues. And, “there’s a cultural divide between hospitals and nursing homes that must be worked out before they will embrace each other in an ACO.”

Topics: Advocacy