John O'Connor
John O’Connor

In some ways, Christmas will come early for senior living.

For after months of careful checking, rechecking and ensuring every provision is in good order, the bean counters at Health and Human Services will finally allow some long-overdue pandemic relief funds to start trickling your way.

As a result, operators can now tap into a $9 billion fund contained in a larger package of Phase 4 Provider Relief distributions.

This is all very good news. And believe me, the sector can use every available penny. These are, after all, incredibly challenging times. But all things considered, operators should be chafing a bit.

Why? Because the hurdles here stand in sharp contrast to the way lawmakers are tossing billions more at defense contractors and other makers of industrial-grade weaponry.

Consider, the House just approved $768.1 billion in defense outlays. Which is $25 billion MORE than the White House actually requested. Guess our lawmakers just kind of threw in $25 billion for incidentals.

The measure is likely to pass in the Senate. And if history is any indication, lawmakers in the upper chamber will throw in some additional sweeteners as well.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe a strong state-of-the art defense is critical. Especially given some of the stunts our neighbors in Moscow, Pyongyang and Beijing have been pulling lately.

But many of the line items in the proposed defense budget didn’t get a first look, much less a second. Will a lot of the new toys we’re about to pay for — or pay more for — actually perform as promised? Who knows?

We’re not even in a war. Yet we are about to approve the highest defense budget (even when adjusted for inflation) since World War II? Such extravagance might be more understandable if the same lawmakers weren’t so stingy with funding that helps our oldest and most vulnerable citizens.

In the latter case, every dollar gets close scrutiny before being grudging approved — if it is approved.

The second most troubling thing here is the obvious double standard. The most troubling thing? It’s indefensible.

John O’Connor is editorial director for McKnight’s.