What the elections mean to senior living
Lois A. Bowers
The potential ways in which senior living might be affected by the national elections will be more apparent next week once the results are known.
“I think we're all anxious to see the outcome of the election so we know who is going to be in charge of key committees,” National Center for Assisted Living Executive Director Scott Tittle told me at last week's annual meeting of the organization and the American Health Care Association. Among those key committees are Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce in the House of Representatives and Finance in the Senate, he added.
Committee chairpersons, of course, will be determined by which party holds the majority in the House and Senate. Leadership could influence what happens with the Government Accountability Office study of Medicaid in assisted living that is expected to be completed by early next year, Tittle said. NCAL and other organizations representing senior living providers have served as resources as the GAO conducts its research.
Harry Potter for president
National Center for Assisted Living Executive Director Scott Tittle's six-year-old daughter, Holyn, knows who she wants to win the presidential election, the executive director shared briefly at the American Health Care Association / NCAL annual meeting opening session and expanded on with me.
She presented her father with a choice: Donald Trump or Harry Potter.
“I said, ‘Well, honey, who do you want to win?' ” Tittle recalled. “She said, ‘Well, we don't want Donald Trump.' I said, ‘Why not?' She said, ‘Because he wants to build a wall around Chicago.' ”
Chicago, as Tittle noted, is the location of an American Girl Place doll store, a shop his daughter definitely wants to be able to access.
Overall, several potential outcomes of the election exist. For instance, the Senate could be controlled by one major party and the House controlled by the other, or the president could come from one major party and Congress is controlled by the other.
“If we have a Republican-controlled Congress, supplemental payments and Medicaid reform could very well be on the table, and ... there will be some potential challenges for Medicaid reimbursement in the future” with respect to home- and community-based services, Tittle said.
A Congress and White House controlled by Democrats, on the other hand, could mean additional regulations that affect assisted living in that it is an industry that employs a large number of people, he said, pointing to overtime and Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations that were announced this year under President Barack Obama, a Democrat.
“A lot of it depends on what the outcome is,” Tittle said.
Regardless of whom voters choose, however, NCAL's focus will remain the same, said the organization's chairman, Chris Mason.
“As a sector, we advocate for our seniors more than anything else,” he told me. “It doesn't really matter, in my mind, if it's a Democratic Congress and a Democratic presidency or a Republican Congress and Republican presidency. Our focus is on our seniors. We're out there to be their voice.”
And what do older adults want? Two polls shed some light on that question.
In a new AARP poll among 1,500 likely women voters living in 15 battleground states and aged at least 50 years, 85% said the presidential candidates should talk about how they would support family caregivers who provide unpaid care to aging parents or spouses or other adult family members; 72% said that the next president and Congress should address Social Security immediately; and 67% said that people who take time off from work to care for loved ones should receive a caregiver credit in the calculation of their Social Security benefits. You can see more results here.
According to new research from the Kaiser Family Foundation, citizens are more concerned with candidates' characteristics, the economy and jobs, and foreign policy than they are with healthcare. When it comes to healthcare, however, high prescription drug costs and provider networks in insurance plans are their top priorities. Twenty-seven percent of survey participants (a nationally representative random digit telephone sample of 1,205 adults) were aged 50 to 64, and 18% were aged at least 65 years.
See you at the polls.
Lois A. Bowers is senior editor of McKnight's Senior Living. Follow her on Twitter at @Lois_Bowers.