What Have We Done for You Lately? - March 2018

Our Story | March 28, 2018

If we had to choose one word to describe our March 2018 activities at LeadingAge, it would be “clamorous.” As winter turned to spring, we raised our voice about a variety of issues that members care about. We’re happy to report that, in several important instances, our voice was heard loud and clear. Click the links to learn more about our work for you in March.

Celebrating the Omnibus Spending Bill

After many months of hard work on the advocacy front, we celebrated in late March when Congress passed, and the President signed, an omnibus 2018 spending bill that provides some of the highest funding levels most housing programs have seen in years, including $105 million for new Section 202 construction and project-based rental assistance.

The bill also included “RAD for PRAC,” a provision that will expand HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) to include Section 202 housing communities with Project Rental Assistance Contracts (PRAC). Securing RAD for PRAC has been a priority for LeadingAge for years. It gives senior housing providers a proven way to bring private financing to the preservation of their communities.

The omnibus bill contained plenty of other good news for housing providers, including a $15 million increase for service coordinators, and the continuation of existing congregate service grants.

“We applaud Congress for the funding they approved for essential services for older adults through the remainder of 2018, and we will continue working with legislators on the budget for fiscal year 2019,” said President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan.

Writing Letters to Make Our Point

We used the art of letter writing to voice both our opposition and support for policies and legislation affecting LeadingAge members. In strongly worded letters to key members of Congress, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), we:

  • Expressed opposition to legislation that could politicize the nonprofit sector by repealing or weakening the tax code’s “Johnson Amendment.” The amendment prohibits tax-exempt organizations from engaging in political campaigns in favor of or against candidates.
  • Urged HUD to retain language in its mission statement “that reflects one of HUD’s most important responsibilities: enforcement and promotion of the Fair Housing Act.” We joined the National Fair Housing Alliance in sending the letter after learning that HUD is contemplating changing its mission statement in ways that would remove the words, “build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.” LeadingAge is also concerned that the draft mission statement would remove the phrase “utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life.”
  • Joined 4 other organizations in expressing to CMMI our concerns about BPCI Advanced, the successor program to the Bundled Payment for Care Improvement Initiative (BPCI), The letter calls for specific changes to CMMI’s approach, and requests a meeting with CMMI to review the concerns of LeadingAge and the other organizations.
  • Added our name to a letter from the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations in support of the Building Our Largest Dementia Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act (BOLD Act). The BOLD Act would apply a public health approach to, and create an infrastructure for, many aspects of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, including prevention, early detection and diagnosis, and treatment.

Establishing LeadingAge as a Trusted Voice for Aging

LeadingAge team members offered their insights to a variety of media outlets this month. As a result, the perspectives of nonprofit providers of aging services were included in several important articles. For example:

  • President and CEO Katie Sloan spoke out about President Trump’s budget proposals in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.
  • Steve Maag, director of residential living, was quoted in a New York Times article on “7 Ways to Judge a Retirement Community’s Financial Health.” LeadingAge also submitted a letter to the editor underscoring the fact that the life plan community sector is “strong and stable.”
  • Majd Alwan, senior vice president of technology, talked with USA Today about how technology can help older adults age in community.
  • The concerns of Peter Notarstefano, director of home and community-based services, were included in a Home Health Care News article about the new prospective payment system now being shaped by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
  • Robyn Stone, senior vice president of research, talked with Kaiser Health News about how Trump immigration policies could put immigrant caregivers and elders at risk.

Releasing New Member Resources

No month would be complete without the release of multiple resources to help LeadingAge members do their work. During March, LeadingAge released:

  • The Regulatory Round Up: This suite of 3 products is designed to provide LeadingAge members with valuable information about federal regulatory initiatives and developments.
  • The 2030 Aging Services Scenario Toolkit: This strategic planning toolkit explores the future need for and delivery of aging services in the context of expectable, challenging, and visionary futures. The toolkit includes a report and video presentation detailing the scenarios, and a discussion guide and PowerPoint presentation to use in your internal discussions.
  • LeadingAge Magazine: The magazine’s March/April issue examines how LeadingAge members are putting their best foot forward by learning about the changing landscape they face, examining how they communicate with their communities, asking how well their services correspond with what consumers want, and adapting to better serve older adults.
  • Social Connectedness and Engagement Technology Online Selection Tool: The Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST) released an updated version of this tool in March. CAST also released 2 new FutureCAST interviews with CAST Commissioner Alan Bugos, head of technology and innovation for home monitoring at Philips, and Bill Rabe, chief information officer at Covenant Retirement Communities.

Finally, more than 1,000 LeadingAge members and business partners from around the country attended our annual PEAK Leadership Summit, where they received new information, insights, and resources about a variety of topics. Attendees took part in a range of programs and events, including 30 education sessions focusing on such topics as technology, legal matters, and updates on regulations, the new nursing home survey process, hospice quality reporting programs, housing policy, and HUD management. LeadingAge members also logged almost 100 in-person visits with lawmakers on Lobby Day.