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 AHCA/NCAL's 65th Convention Sees Advocates Ready 'To Go on Offense'

National Harbor, Md.—Providers and provider advocates will drop anchor here this week for the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) Annual Convention & Expo.
 
Keynote speakers are scheduled to include former Secretary of State Colin Powell and merchant mariner Richard Phillips, the real-life hero who was captured and held hostage by Somali pirates for three excruciating days in April 2009.
 
AHCA/NCAL’s convention officially becomes a senior citizen this year—it’s the 65th annual meeting—but it finds members sprier than ever: Last year, AHCA/NCAL finished two major mergers—first by absorbing the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care and then by reuniting with its Illinois affiliate.
 
Now, having fought off drastic congressional cuts to their sector, advocates are hoping to “go on offense,” AHCA/NCAL President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Parkinson has said. AHCA Board Chairman Len Russ, for instance, is scheduled to offer a speech focusing on reforming the sector’s payment models. (NCAL Board Chair Pat Giorgio, for her part, is scheduled to discuss the inherent dynamism of assisted living.)
 
But the groups have also convened their own special committee to come up with their own ideas for saving public dollars without sacrificing quality care. The recommendations are expected early next year.
 
Meanwhile, many provider advocates are girding themselves for another round of combat on physician payments under Medicare’s sustainable growth rate. Last year, AHCA/NCAL backed a bipartisan proposal that would have replaced the sustainable growth rate, or SGR, with a 10-year plan with incremental boosts to doctors’ payments.
 
The effort ultimately fizzled, but U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) tells Provider for the upcoming November issue that he and his colleagues are already working on reviving legislation for a permanent “doc fix.”
 
“If we’re going to get this done right, we’ve got to start laying the groundwork for the lame duck session—now,” Brady says in an exclusive interview.
 
Bill Myers is Provider’s senior editor. Email him at myers101@outlook.com. Follow him on Twitter, @ProviderMyers.
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