Mr. Parkinson Goes To Washington…

Provider advocates have come to Washington for AHCA/NCAL's annual Congressional Briefing.

Provider advocates have come to Washington for AHCA/NCAL’s annual Congressional Briefing.

Good morning, ProviderNation. The fine folks at AHCA/NCAL, apparently deprived of malarial heat in their own native climes, are coming to D.C.

They’ll gather in the capitol for what has become an annual rite of lobbying and organizing. “We will make sure the message is clear,” AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson says. “And we will continue our work to improve lives by delivering solutions for quality care.”

As has been the case since Parkinson took over five years ago, provider advocates say they’re coming not to ask, but to offer. Parkinson and his team have gambled that what some folks might call “constructive engagement”—offering up proposals that address Big Picture concerns without sacrificing core mission (or funds) stuff—will pay off.

The dice have come up and it’s been all sevens so far: Already, AHCA/NCAL have successfully lobbied for a permanent repeal to the doc fix, they’ve answered the call on provider agreements and they’ve seen increasing momentum to scrap (or fix) the noxious observation stay loophole.

AHCA/NCAL wants you to know that they’re not resting on their laurels. In fact, this year they’ll not just be talking quality, but also pushing observation stays and reminding Congress-types about their thin operating margins.

Here’s the thing, though: Whatever political tempests providers find themselves tossed into (and it was ever thus), there’s no doubt that many have rethought their own attitudes towards the capitol. Michael Wylie, an executive at Genesis HealthCare in Pennsylvania and an AHCA/NCAL board member sums it up thusly:

“We’re a little more than a year in, and 2015 has already seen us clear some pretty sizable legislative hurdles. Through it all, we have viewed our role in Washington as partners in this process – working with lawmakers and regulators alike to make the strong case on why our members are at the forefront of quality care delivery,” he says.

If the Washington trip used to be a drag for many advocates (who, after all, have a lot to do on their own), that, too, may be changing and a growing sense of confidence is palpable among them.

“This week, we will bring another record number of individuals who cherish this profession and strive every day to make it the best it can be,” Wylie tells us. “I know Capitol Hill will be impressed.”

And The Winners Are… 

Speaking of impressiveness, mad props to Robin Hillier, Barry Lazarus and Bob Van Dyk, all of whom will be feted at Congressional briefing this year. They’re recipients of the Joe Warner Patient Advocacy Award, which is given annual to those who’ve done so much “to educate members of Congress about the needs of long term and post-acute care patients and to advance quality care.”

(And please don’t think I put Robin Hillier first on the list because she’s my favorite tweep. I mean, I put her first because she’s my favorite tweep, but I don’t want you to think that.)

So welcome to Washington, ProviderNation. Enjoy the sights, but try to stay in the shade.

Bill Myers is Provider’s senior editor. Email him at Follow him on Twitter, @ProviderMyers.


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