SAN ANTONIO — A new Argentum initiative aims to “reframe the conversation with policymakers that we really are an industry that they should be thinking about as part of the solution, long-term, to long-term care,” Argentum President and CEO James Balda told McKnight’s Senior Living.

Argentum announced the Senior Living Impact initiative on Wednesday at the annual Senior Living Executive Conference. It will target federal and state officials.

The organization partnered with consulting firm Tripp Umbach to conduct key stakeholder interviews, collect data, review historical surveys from a proprietary database, and examine public and government sources. The results quantify the senior living industry’s current economic, employment, government revenue and social responsibility effects nationally as well as in each state and the District of Columbia.

According to the study:

  • The senior living industry provides more than 1.6 million jobs and has a total economic impact of $246.9 billion, or 1.3% of the national gross domestic product.
  • The senior living industry ranked higher in total U.S. impact than the auto manufacturing industry ($205.8 billion), the air transportation industry ($202.8 billion) and the hotel and motel industry ($167.9 billion).
  • That impact has grown from less than $200 billion in 2008 and is projected to grow to as much as $327 billion by 2028.
  • The states providing the biggest impact include California ($26.5 billion), Florida ($14.5 billion) and New York ($10.1 billion). Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina, Washington, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Illinois, Virginia, Georgia and Ohio also are “states of influence.”

The senior living industry can use those data to make a case for changes related to workforce issues or changes to the tax code that benefit long-term care financing — for instance, by letting people defer 401(k) disbursements or letting families create long-term care savings accounts, Balda said.

“That’s really where I see an opportunity for us as an industry,” he said. “It won’t happen overnight, and we won’t see the benefits of it overnight, but if we can free up more money for people to use on their own in a private-pay setting, then it just takes more pressure off of Medicaid, as an example. …But for us to be able to have that kind of conversation with policymakers requires information like what you’re seeing in Senior Living Impact.”

The data also could be used to advocate for changes related to workforce issues, Balda said.

“There are things that policymakers can and should be doing to help the industry, because we are part of the continuum — and a highly successful part of the continuum. On the private-pay side, there isn’t government reimbursement, and so there’s no burden on the social safety net,” he said.

The website for the initiative has a video and a map with state and national data. Argentum plans to share additional data in the future.

In other conference news, Argentum recognized the four recipients of its Best of the Best Awards, which were profiled in the March/April issue of Argentum’s magazine.

  • Heritage Communities was honored for “In a Good Place,” a book developed by the company’s president, Nate Underwood, and corporate director of sales and marketing, Lacy Jungman, to guide adult children through the senior living decision-making process.
  • Brookdale Senior Living was recognized for “This Week at Canyon Lakes,” a news broadcast produced by residents and associates of the Kennewick, WA, senior living community.
  • Senior Living Communities was honored for its J.O.Y. (Joining Older and Younger) program, designed to promote long-term partnerships with outside youth organizations in planning intergenerational activities within and outside the communities.
  • Benchmark Senior Living was recognized for The Village at Buckland Court Adult Educational Program, through which an Adult Education Council plans courses for residents in person, online and in experiential settings.

The meeting ended Wednesday.

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