Somehow we need to change how the Federal Government does business. Senior Housing ought to drive the conversation.

I struggled with whether or not to write and publish this article.  I want to start by saying this is not an article about the immediate impact of the shutdown on Senior Housing.  For that try LeadingAge Federal Government Shutdown: How Will It Affect Aging Services?  This article is a plea for us to step back and look at what we are doing to ourselves  . . . what we are letting our politicians do to us and our progeny. What frustrates me today and I suspect aggravates you, is something that should give us all pause.  It is that not all that long ago, that we went through a very similar barrage of doom and gloom predictions over sequestration. At the end of the day, all the dire warnings proved to be unfounded (yes there were some impacts).  Now here we are again . . .  Lots of hot air and yet in truth, tomorrow, next week and next month most things will continue be as they were before the shutdown.  It won’t be painless, particularly for those furloughed government employees, except that if historical patterns continue, those furlough days will functionally become additional paid vacation days paid for by you and me.  For the most part, business will get done; the government will largely continue to function as before.

Why We as an Industry Should Care

Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, right now our government sucks.  All sides and all factions are interested in winning at all cost even if it means crushing the other side.  Even worse, in many cases the goal is to hurt and destroy the opposition.  Because of this polarization, almost everyone is out to extract as much from the government pocketbook as they can, regardless of the consequences to others or our society as a whole. If we are honest about it, even the senior care industry is frequently one of the culprits with trade associations constantly pushing for higher reimbursement rates.  It is hard to imagine a senior trade association saying, “whoa . . . wait a minute you are giving us too much money, you ought to go spend it someplace else.” (Again, I acknowledge that there are some real inequities that do need to be fought for.) We should care because this is a great country and we should want it to be a great country for our children and our grandchildren and their children.  If we and others, got all we asked for, the country would go broke.  The wealthy don’t have enough money to fund all that our hearts desires. As we extract more money from the government we make life harder for everyone.  There are more taxes and less money to spend as we choose for either needs or wants.  There is less money to spend on things like private senior care.

If Only . . .

  • LeadingAge, ALFA and AHCA would band together and begin to say, we need to put our needs and wants behind the bigger need of the nation.  We need took at how to aggressively share the wealth.
  • If only, the conservatives, like me would acknowledge our system is so messed up that we need some kind of universal care system.
  • If only the liberals would acknowledge that Obama Care  is an expensive inefficient mess that most people don’t want, in large part, because much of it contains is more about furthering political agendas than providing healthcare for our citizens.
  • If only we would began to tell our Democrat politicians that people hate the fighting and finger pointing, and that even though you have the upper hand it doesn’t mean you should use it to crush the Republicans, because a lot of people will get hurt along the whole way.  That for many of us it is real life and not just about making the Republicans look bad.
  • If only we would began to tell our Republican politicians that they need to come up with a real plan that will provide healthcare to our entire nation and that brinksmanship is not helping us get there.

I Believe . . .

I believe with all my heart that those of us who provide care to our nations seniors, do so because we have a heart for elders more broadly even a heart for other people. I believe we ought to be leading the conversation with our staff, our colleagues, our competitors, our residents and our families. I believe that conversation needs to start by saying we are going to approach our political decision making looking not only at our own needs, but at the broader needs of the nation . . . our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Even if this means voting against our own party.