LTC industry: Get back to basics ahead of Trump Adminstration

It was an unconventional election season, and Donald Trump is shaping up to be an unconventional leader.

The long-term care industry is contingent upon the federal government to shape policy and allocate spending to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The industry is carefully watching for clues from President-elect on what to expect in 2017. But it’s largely speculation and mostly nerve-racking.

"The best thing you can do to prepare is to provide the best care you can to your patients," says Cynthia Morton, MPA, National Association for the Support of Long Term Care. "That will see you through all the quality measures that have been imposed and continue to be imposed on us and help you follow CMS activity as closely as possible. It's not always the same measures but it goes back to the same thing: reducing hospital readmissions."

Morton offered a preview of what's ahead for CMS policy and how long-term care facilities can position themselves for success under a Trump Administration.

During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump repeatedly talked about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. It's unclear whether campaign rhetoric will translate into policy, but it's clear from his nomination of Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., as Health and Human Services Secretary that Trump is serious about reform. House Speaker Paul Ryan's "A Better Way" plan could be a key part of that.

Morton says change will not come overnight. "Repeal could come quickly but replacement is harder. They will have 20 million Americans on their hands, and they don't want to disrupt the market." At the same time, change can't take years and leave those vulnerable Americans at risk. Instead, she expects parts of the law will be replaced, such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation and comprehensive joint replacement bundled payment initiatives.

That means change would come from the legislative branch. Republicans have retained control of both the House and the Senate, but the Senate is more closely split and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is the new minority leader known for being a deal maker.

All of which is to say, change is coming in 2017, but the extent is still unknown. The best way, then, to prepare for 2017 is to look at the larger picture: improving patient outcomes.

Morton says to follow CMS activity closely but also look for quality measures in multiple programs, such as re-admissions. Internally find ways to reduce hospitalizations, using data to help tell that story to other health care providers, residents and their families, and the rest will take care of itself.

"Take your destiny in your hands," Morton says.

Topics: Articles , Executive Leadership , Medicare/Medicaid , Risk Management