Even though final results from the U.S. presidential and congressional elections are not yet known, the head of advocacy operations for the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) tells Provider the trends look positive for the long term and post-acute care sector.

Clifton Porter II, senior vice president, government relations, AHCA/NCAL, says this is because any continuation of divided government will likely temper any drastic swings in how the industry’s issues fare.

“The Senate seems to be lining up to where the Republicans hold the majority, albeit a smaller majority, and the Democratic majority will continue in the House, although it has shrunk relatively significantly,” he says.  While the presidency seems to be leaning to former Vice President Joe Biden (D), “Overall, for us, if the current direction of the races continues it will be good for us simply because we are going to have mutual accountability on issues alarming to us,” Porter says.

There is some concern about reconstituting relationships at the policy level during the COVID-19 crisis, notably at the Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, where leadership and staff would see a major turnover with a change in administrations, Porter notes.

“We are going to have to essentially start all of our work over with a new administration [if the trend in vote tabulations holds]. Being in the middle of a pandemic makes this a little unnerving, as we will be switching to new people while we still have some pretty serious challenges from a public health perspective,” he says.

What lies ahead is already being discussed at the highest levels, Porter says, pointing to comments earlier on Nov. 4 from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that he wants to get a new stimulus package completed by the end of the calendar year, reversing a previous pre-election statement that such work could wait until the new Senate is seated in January.

Porter says of utmost importance to providers is McConnell’s stance that any new stimulus package tied to COVID relief include liability reforms to protect business from virus-related claims.

“For us that will be the focus during the lame-duck [session from now until January 2021] because of McConnell’s courageous position where he drew a line the sand on liability reforms,” Porter says.

“COVID was beyond any of our control, and if McConnell holds the majority there will be protections, and that alone to me removes an existential threat to our profession,” he says.

AHCA/NCAL will also be working to ensure that current funds in the government’s COVID relief programs last well into 2021 as the pandemic is showing no signs of slowing down.

“Some centers will need help sooner rather than later, but there has been some additional relief just recently with value-based payments of some $25,000 per building per month, on average,” he says.

“We cannot anticipate where the tail is on this crisis yet, and we have to be smart and assume the worst. We would rather have more resources that not enough.”