Parkinson offers ‘obvious solution’ to staffing problems, occupancy outlook and financing answers

Two “critically important” issues will determine long-term care providers’ near-term fate over the next month and a half, the nation’s top nursing home leader said Tuesday.

One is to achieve another extension of the federal public health emergency (PHE) designation before it expires April 15. The other will be achieving a favorable proposal for the 2023 Medicare payment rule next month, said Mark Parkinson, the president of the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living.

“For the last two years, we’ve viewed our job as getting enough financial resources so that [providers] can survive until census recovers,” Parkinson told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News in an exclusive interview. “It’s been hard because census recovery has pushed out as new variants have emerged. Our objective is still to continue to get resources, whether from the federal level or the state level until census recovers.”

He said the PHE designation from the Department of Health and Human Services is crucial because many states have tied increased Medicaid payments to it. “Job No. 1 is to get the PHE extended,” he emphasized.

The second goal is a strong Medicare pay hike for fiscal 2023, he added.

“MedPAC has called for a 5% reduction in rates. We just can’t afford that,” he said. “The sector is in crisis. This is not a time to be cutting us.”

There is also a lingering concern that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services may be ready to tug hard on reimbursement rates associated with the Patient Drive Payment Model. Any update probably would reduce payments, which regulators say are higher than desired. They were in place for a few months before the pandemic threw all normal calculation methods out the window.

Parkinson said a third major objective is to continue working with state leaders to strengthen the flow of local funding streams…(continued)

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