John O'Connor illustration
McKnight’s Editorial Director John O’Connor

It’s been a rough week for nursing homes. Aren’t you glad you don’t run one?

On Monday, the federales proposed a boatload of new rules and regulations for skilled care operators. All in the name of improving quality, of course.

Then on Tuesday night, our Commander in Chief specifically blasted private equity-owned facilities during his State of the Union address. President Biden claimed — without citing anything resembling an actual example — that their charges are going north while quality is going south.

Not that a rebuttal matters in the grand scheme. The current administration has made it abundantly clear that it does not hold skilled care operators in high regard.

What the feds unveiled this week was essentially the residue of such animus. That it was rolled out without even the courtesy of advance warning or consultation was perhaps even more remarkable.

But you as a senior living operators need not worry, right? After all, those are private-equity-owned nursing homes getting a new one torn, correct?

Yes and yes, for now.

What is interesting here is that Biden specifically promised that Medicare standards will go up. What a coincidence. Medicare just happens to be the largest revenue stream for many skilled care operators. Care to guess what’s going to happen to payments if/when those new and improved requirements are not met? No veiled threat there. No siree.

But why just turn down the Medicare spigot? Skilled care operators increasingly are relying on other publicly funded revenue sources. Medicaid, in fact, actually provides nursing homes with more funding than Medicare. Talk about a juicy target.

And what about residents paying nursing homes with money derived from government pensions, military benefits or other, ahem, public sources. Gee, wonder if prohibitive caveats could be attached to any of those dollars?

Yep, things could get ugly.

Unfortunately, those are the kinds of outcomes that can occur when ill-informed, powerful people get a hankering for a pound of flesh. It’s a reality that many skilled care operators have had to deal with for decades.

But hey, nasty public officials who control purse strings are the nursing home industry’s problem. You probably have nothing to worry about.

John O’Connor is editorial director of McKnight’s Senior Living and its sister media brands, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, which focuses on skilled nursing, and McKnight’s Home Care.