​Every year, more than 500 AHCA/NCAL members from around the country usually come to Washington, DC, for the annual Congressional Briefing conference. Due to the pandemic’s grip on the nation, the conference was cancelled for the past two years. This year, the meeting is back on track, scheduled for June 6-7, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, and is expected to be one of the most important meetings ever.

5 reasonsAmong the featured speakers this year will be Major Garrett, CBS News’ Chief Washington Correspondent, who for 30 years has reported from the front lines of the nation’s pressing issues, doggedly chasing and breaking news stories. He began his illustrious journalism career as a general assignment reporter and has since covered Congress for two major magazines and served as White House correspondent for three television networks. His presentations provide behind-the-scenes glimpses at the White House and Congress, policies the current administration is laying out, and a view of what we can anticipate during the upcoming election season.

During the conference, the Joe Warner Patient Advocacy Awards will be presented to Jim Carlson, former CEO of the Oregon Health Care Association, and Shawn Scott, Vice President with Medline Industries in Illinois. AHCA/NCAL bestows this prestigious award on Association members who have worked diligently to educate members of Congress about the needs of long term care patients and residents, and to advance quality long term care. Named for the late Joe Warner, the annual award recognizes advocates who possess the same compassion for, and commitment to, our nation’s frail, elderly, and disabled citizens that exemplified the work of former president and CEO of Illinois-based Heritage Enterprises, Joe Warner.

The pandemic has been very hard on our profession and we, as front care workers, need to tell our story to Congress. Members of Congress need to hear about the challenges we faced to provide quality care to our patients. Sadly, our stories have barely been told in the media, and elected officials need to know about our valiant efforts and struggles on behalf of our residents.

The long term care workforce and economic crisis will only be solved with the prioritization of the industry from the Biden Administration and Congress through meaningful investments. The Provider Relief Fund has been a lifeline for some, but Congress needs to do more for our profession. Specifically, AHCA/NCAL calls for a replenishment of the Provider Relief Fund with $20 billion allocated to long term care. In addition, we have called on the Biden Administration to extend the public health emergency declaration in order to ensure nursing homes continue to receive critical Medicaid funding.

Matthew SmythWith immediate and long term support, providers and caregivers would have the resources they need to continue fighting back from the devastation that the pandemic has caused, and our seniors will continue receiving the quality care that they need and deserve.

By meeting face to face with your Senators, Representatives, and their staff, you can tell your unique experiences in a way that no one else can! Please come to Washington in June and help carry our message to Capitol Hill. We need you to be a voice for our profession and, more importantly, for our residents!

Matt Smyth is Government Relations' Senior Director, Grassroots Program.