Payers 'can't ignore assisted living,' former senators say

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Lois A. Bowers
Lois A. Bowers

Former Sens. Tom Daschle and Bill Frist showed prescience at the National Investment Centers for Seniors Housing & Care 2017 Spring Investment Forum in San Diego last week when they said that any reform related to the Affordable Care Act would need bipartisan support to be successful.

The two, who co-chair the Health Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, an organization that Daschle helped found, made their remarks Thursday at the NIC conference luncheon. Late the next day, the American Health Care Act was pulled from the House floor when it seemed that it lacked sufficient votes to pass and move on to the Senate.

So what, in their opinion, is ahead for senior living and long-term care?

When panel moderator Kenneth Segarnick, chief corporate officer of Brandywine Living, asked them whether insurers might give assisted living providers a “seat at the table in the delivery of care” in light of the shifting of risk that is occurring in healthcare, Daschle said, “I think they have to. You can't ignore assisted living in the longer term, because of the demographics and because of the interrelationship. As we look more and more at the need for a continuum of care, it seems to me that assisted living has to be a more vocal partner and a more visible participant as we look at solutions.”

Frist, a medical doctor — specifically, a heart and lung transplant surgeon — by training, said he agreed and added, “I think the payers themselves are going to be looking for value, and the consumer is going to really be looking for value.”

Both said that senior living and skilled nursing operators increasingly will be asked to improve quality, prove their value and justify what they do.

When Segarnick asked the former senate leaders where they would invest in the senior living/long-term care sector if they had $1 billion, Frist said he would put his money in memory care because the need for such services will be “explosive” and the amount of money spent on such services is “going to triple over the next 20 years no matter what. No matter what,” given the fact that a cure for Alzheimer's disease does not appear to be imminent.

Asked to sum up their thoughts on the future of healthcare for operators and investors in the style of Twitter, a favored mode of communication for President Donald Trump, Daschle said, “My tweet would be, ‘In this healthcare transformation, our success depends on resiliency, innovation, collaboration and engagement.' ” Frist said, “I would say, ‘Senior care is a growth industry. High-touch, high-value, brand and attention to the consumer will prevail.' ”

Given their knowledge of healthcare and policy (which you can read more about by clicking on “Meet the Experts” here), Daschle and Frist's predictions can be a source of comfort for seniors housing and care providers and investors. The two also predicted at the luncheon that Congress ultimately will pass a healthcare reform bill, however. So it seems that senior living organizations have more advocating to do to ensure that whatever legislation replaces the American Health Care Act serves residents well.

Kenneth Segarnick, left, chief corporate officer of Brandywine Living, moderates a discussion with former Sens. Tom Daschle and Bill Frist.

Lois A. Bowers is senior editor of McKnight's Senior Living. Follow her on Twitter at @Lois_Bowers.

See more coverage of the NIC meeting under “Related Articles,” below.

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