Encore Rehabilitation is Taking an Active Role in Advocacy for the Industry.
“We cannot let doing nothing be an option.” Phil Fogg, AHCA board chair, was blunt during AHCA’s Congressional Briefing last Monday, June 6, according to this recent McKnight’s article. More than 500 industry leaders took to DC last week to visit Capitol Hill and seek help on the upcoming Medicare cuts. Along with industry leaders and operators, Encore Rehabilitation was there to help ensure our voices were heard. Encore’s President Clare Coleman, Regional Vice President Masha Cherpakov, and Vice President of Business Development Charity Mills all represented Encore Rehabilitation and the many voices of long-term care providers. They raised concerns with lawmakers about the potential impact of the proposed 4.6% cut to PDPM rates and the need for additional resources in the setting to facilitate adequate staffing and meet the needs of those we serve.
The proposed reimbursement cuts in the upcoming CY 2023 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) would continue to pull from facility-level resources already stretched thin after struggling with the pandemic the past two years. For the therapy world, this would be an additional cut on top of the 15% reduction for services provided by assistants earlier this year. Ahead of the CY 2023 PFS, CMS accepted comments until June 10, giving those potentially affected by these cuts a chance to voice their concerns and bring awareness to the dire situation in our industry.
“Therapists may not know this, but the power of the pen is impactful. As of June 6, more than 3000 letters had been received at CMS regarding the impact of reimbursement changes to skilled nursing facilities. AHCA was wanting an additional thousand and had already heard back from CMS that they were being overrun by letters. It’s the sheer volume of our voices and our stories that get noticed and make the leaders of our government stand up and take action.”
– Clare Coleman, President, Encore Rehabilitation
In our industry, advocacy is crucial because the voices of those we are trying to make heard are those of our residents, who ultimately feel the impact of our changing system. Many of our residents cannot actively voice concerns themselves and rely on us to ensure their needs are being met. Every reimbursement cut and policy change trickles down to them – translating to staffing cuts and other negative impacts as resources continue to be funneled out of the long-term care industry.
Masha highlighted the importance of sharing our stories, saying, “… we need to understand that our lawmakers do not know our environment. It’s only through sharing our experiences that they have a lens into the realities of our industry and why we need change.”
“How do we explain what a staff shortage looks like in a nursing home?” Masha asks. “What does a 4% cut look like on top of the current staffing crises? What does a system look like that already doesn’t have enough resources to care for the individuals we serve? We have to sit in front of them and tell the story.”
Clare and Masha know the media has not helped our case the past few years; it’s left some people critical of how resources are spent in this industry.
“To put it bluntly, the media has not been kind to long-term care, and we have been villainized despite the ongoing, unrelenting heroism that our front-line staff has shown during this pandemic. We need to stand up for the value of what we do every day,” Masha continues. “Despite some feeling the long-term care world has failed in some way during the pandemic, as members of this industry, we can all relate to the fact that many were simply trying to survive in an already damaged system that was made worse with reimbursement cuts and lack of resources.”
For Clare, a powerful part of the week was hearing the passion in the voices of the healthcare advocates at the event in DC, as they all stood united in an attempt to protect the residents we serve from being affected by these potentially harmful cuts.
To ensure the sustainability and longevity of our industry, advocacy must become a crucial part of what we each do. Our voices, and the voices of those we serve, need to be heard so we can continue to receive the appropriate benefits to care for some of the most vulnerable members of our society. At Encore Rehabilitation, we will continue to bring light to the challenges in our industry as we advocate for real change.