Neil Pruitt Jr. has been tapped to join a federal commission on long term care, it was announced today.

Neill Pruitt Jr.Pruitt, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of UHS-Pruitt, is a veteran of long term care and one of the profession’s most respected leaders. He serves as chairman of the American Health Care Association Board of Governors and was the choice of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to serve on the commission.

Names were still trickling out on the members of the new commission, but Pruitt joins such luminaries as:
•    Judith Brach, co-chair of the Jewish Federations of North America’s aging committee;
•    Bruce Chernof, MD, president of the SCAN Foundation;
•    Judith Stein, the founder of the Center for Medicare Advocacy; and
•    George Vradenburg, founder of USAgainst Alzheimer’s.

When it’s fully staffed, the commission will have 15 members. Nine will have been appointed by Democrats, six by Republicans. The commission won’t get separate funding but will have to rely on staff from Congress and the White House.

In a statement released just after his name was announced, Pruitt said he was “humbled and honored” by the selection.

The commission, created by a past compromise over the so-called fiscal cliff, is designed to come up with workable solutions to delivering top-quality care to the nation’s seniors and people with disabilities. Pruitt said he’d do his level best to make sure the commission achieves real reforms.

“I’ve seen firsthand how post-acute care has evolved through the years and become a vital partner in the long term care continuum,” he said. “But we’ve never lost sight that it all hinges on quality. We have an opportunity with this commission to reach new pinnacles in caring for our nation’s seniors, and that means also finding ways to keep Medicare and Medicaid financially sound. I’m excited at the prospect for real progress and look forward to working with my fellow commissioners.”

Pruitt’s appointment was welcome news to providers, who had hoped to bring some balance to the commission. Pruitt is an outspoken advocate for high-quality care, as well as what techies call “an early adopter”—his company is famous for its openness to new technologies in patient care.

AHCA President and CEO Gov. Mark Parkinson said he was glad that McConnell picked Pruitt, but added that he was sure the commission would take meaningful steps toward meaningful long term care for Americans.

“Each of these individuals brings a unique perspective to a challenge that promises only to grow in complexity and costs unless we as a nation get serious about workable solutions,” he said. “This panel has much work to do, and we stand ready to help Neil and every commission member with this important charge.”