Katie Smith Sloan

Working to keep the regulation of assisted living at the state level, helping ensure full funding for programs for memory care residents, and advocating for financing reform to help middle-income older adults access long-term services and supports are three of the many priorities LeadingAge outlined for 2020 on Tuesday.

Expanding the supply of affordable housing via the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program is another priority, the organization said. And as part of its elder justice-related work, LeadingAge said it would “[a]dvocate to include abuse identification and training in educational requirements for nursing home and assisted living administrators, geriatricians, physicians and RNs.”

“These priorities began with our members: the thousands of caregivers of all types, at all levels of LeadingAge members, at life plan communities and in assisted living, affordable housing communities, in memory care, nursing homes and adult day centers, home care and hospice agencies,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said.
“Throughout last year, at LeadingAge ‘town hall’ conversations across the country, our members shared their policy concerns and challenges with us, and together we considered solutions.”

Almost 3,000 members participated in 32 town hall events in 2019, according to LeadingAge. The results will serve as the framework for advocacy efforts of the nonprofit association’s Washington D.C.-based national policy team as well as teams at each of LeadingAge’s 38 state partners.

Assisted living regulation

“Preserv[ing] the ability and discretion of states to regulate assisted living” is part of the group’s broader priority related to home- and community-based services.

“At the federal level, HCBS is considered an optional Medicaid service, allowing states to cap Medicaid HCBS enrollment,” LeadingAge noted in its policy document, adding that other federal regulations and state policies could limit which providers could receive Medicaid HCBS reimbursement.

The organization said it will monitor implementation of the HCBS Settings Rule at the federal and state levels and respond to proposed federal rulemaking focused on HCBS and related supports.

Memory care programming

As part of a priority related to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, LeadingAge said: “All memory care residents, most nursing home residents, and large numbers of people served by other LeadingAge providers live with dementia. It is essential that programs serving individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias be fully funded and that funding is concurrently provided to support diagnosis, care coordination, and research into treatments and a cure.”

The middle market

Regarding long-term services and support financing reform, another priority listed in the report, LeadingAge said it will “identify and create solutions to enhance provider access to high-quality aging and LTSS options for the middle market,” among other goals.

“Those in the vast and increasing ‘middle market’ have few options to meet their LTSS needs. While many LTSS benefit proposals have been discussed, few address financing. Increasingly, states – disappointed with the lack of federal attention – are discussing LTSS financing proposals of their own,” the organization said.

Some of the other areas of policy focus for LeadingAge in 2020 will relate to workforce issues, Medicare and Medicaid, technology and telehealth, and tax policy. See more information on the LeadingAge website.