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 Parkinson Declares Only Option For LTC Is To Fight Back

Saying the nation’s nursing facilities are fighting for their very survival, Gov. Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), committed the organization and its members to fighting back against continued reductions in federal and state reimbursement for the care of the elderly and frail.

Speaking at the AHCA/NCAL 62nd annual convention in Las Vegas, Parkinson said the association’s members have to take action to back up his declaration to fight back by lobbying and educating Congress over the next three months.

“You can’t sit back as a spectator and watch what Congress does over the next 90 days. You have to take control. This convention must be about not backing down. It must be about taking action,” he said.

The next three months will see much debate among policymakers in Congress on how to cut government spending, notably within the negotiations of the “super committee” of 12 lawmakers charged with reducing the deficit by a Nov. 23 deadline.

In his present role for less than a year, Parkinson said while many challenges have arisen in his brief tenure, he relished the chance to rally against the seeming onslaught of negative developments out of Washington.

“People say ‘Mark we feel bad for you. You’ve come in an impossible situation.’ Medicare cuts, Medicaid cuts, falling federal and state revenues, OIG reports, etc. I disagree. Now is the perfect time. Because being involved right now, at this time, really matters. It really matters,” he said.

Parkinson noted that critics of nursing homes don’t understand what services and care are provided inside facilities. He equated the challenge of defeating these critics with the great challenges the nation as a whole faced down over the last 100 years, from the Great Depression to World War II to Communism.

“And now we face another challenge, the greatest recession since the 1920s. No profession is immune to it. And our industry is under attack. And there is only one acceptable response … We are going to fight, fight, fight, and win these battles,” he said.

In addition to Parkinson’s remarks, outgoing AHCA Chairman Robert Van Dyke said current vice chair, Neil Pruitt, Jr., will be voted chairman for the next two years during the current convention. Pruitt, chairman and CEO of UHS-Pruitt Corporation, is running unopposed.

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