More than 170 executives from the senior living industry visited with members of Congress February 16, 2011, to advocate for policies that will advance quality of life for America’s seniors. ALFA facilitated the meetings and hosted a briefing about critical matters before Congress that could impact the future of senior living.
"Our advocates explained to members of Congress how their organizations are assisting hundreds of thousands of seniors and preparing to serve millions more in the future,” said Richard Grimes, president and CEO of ALFA. “Resident-centered, consumer-driven senior living is a cost-effective option. It is important that policymakers continue to encourage the innovative, entrepreneurial spirit of senior living providers and our core principles of choice, dignity, independence and quality of life.”
SUPPORT VOLUNTARY INVESTMENT IN LONG TERM CARE PLANNING
Seniors are living longer and need assisted living and elder care services and support to maintain independence for as long as possible. Such assistance is less costly and reduces the chance seniors will need more expensive care. Encouraging Americans to plan for future care needs through a voluntary, nationally run insurance program is one way government can slow rising health care costs. Additionally, Congress should invest in other aspects of health care reform that better protect seniors from elder abuse and promote careers in senior living and elder care.
ADDRESSING ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE TODAY AND TOMORROW
Currently, 5.1 million seniors live with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050, more than 13.5 million seniors are expected to have it. The National Silver Alert Act (H.R. 112) is designed to better protect seniors today by creating a nationwide program to alert authorities and the public when a senior with memory loss goes missing. Additionally, Congress should immediately fund government efforts to coordinate programs related to the National Alzheimer’s Project Act signed into law last December. The new law authorizes the government to create a national plan to address Alzheimer’s disease and better coordinate the development of treatments to halt, reverse or prevent it.
NO INCREASES IN HOME HEALTH CO-PAYS
Home health services reduce the need for more expensive forms of care and are a huge cost saver for Medicare. MedPAC’s recent suggestion to raise co-pays for home health services will cause more people to apply for Medicaid or dissuade them from accessing care they need until it is urgent. ALFA urges Congress to oppose any legislation that increases co-pays for home health services.
REDUCE ADMINISTRATIVE BURDENS ON ENTREPRENEURS
Senior living communities are primarily operated by small to medium-sized businesses. ALFA encourages Congress to eliminate the new onerous paperwork that is part of U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 1099 provisions that begin in 2012. This paperwork is expected to force small businesses to assume significant administrative costs with little benefit for consumers.
Finally, ALFA encourages Congress to clarify for the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) the importance of maintaining positive relationships between management and staff. Recent actions by the NLRB have the potential to create more divisive situations in workplaces, increase administrative costs and reduce innovation.
“Congress has made it clear that business investment will serve as the engine to grow the economy. Adding administrative expenses and new regulation will only make senior living companies hesitate to build more senior living communities and hire more people,” added Grimes.
ALFA’S FOCUS ON PUBLIC POLICY
ALFA focused on these and other senior living public policy issues at the ALFA 2011 Conference & Expo in Orlando, Florida. Educational sessions included an interview with assisted living regulators from three states, a discussion about participating in the new U.S. EPA “Energy Star” program designed to help senior living communities reduce energy costs and insights from morning news hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski about the Politics of Aging in America.
Read an overview of the senior living policy and assisted living regulations discussed at the ALFA 2011 Conference & Expo.
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