Seniors Housing Business

ASHA 2018

Seniors Housing Business is the magazine that helps you navigate the evolution of the seniors housing industry.

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2018 ASHA 50 61 of the like-kind exchange rules; and the doubling of the estate tax exemption, to name a few. These provisions and more will continue to be the focus of attention for some time to come as the U.S. Congress and regulators work to release inter- pretative guidance. Is the perfect storm ahead? When asked what keeps them up at night, the response from senior living executives includes concerns about workforce shortages. It's no surprise given that that the United States is facing its most severe worker shortage in the past two decades. The aging population and the increase in longevity impacts all employee levels, but prominently places direct care workers in short supply. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employ- ment of home health aides and personal care aides is projected to grow 41 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. With an unemploy- ment rate hovering at the 4 percent level, there are plenty of available jobs but not enough workers. Creative and thoughtful approaches are in place by savvy companies to train, recruit and retain quality people to reduce turnover and increase job satis- faction, but it won't be enough to meet the demand coming our way. Public policies that complement the private market solutions to increase the number of people allowed to work in the United States through immigration reform should be given strong consideration. There is great interest in Con- gress to address these issues. While action on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the border wall continue to garner the most headlines, the 116th Congress will likely turn its attention to more comprehensive reform. Specifically, proposals are currently being drafted to create a new unskilled worker visa category to address worker shortages under very specific criteria. For example, immigrants would be allowed to compete for jobs when unemployment hits a certain level and employers have exhausted their ability to hire suitable employ- ees. There is broad support for such measures among the business community, and ASHA is looking closely at these initiatives and will weigh in with policymakers as pro- posals take shape. Immigration reform will not solve all of the workforce needs, but it can be a very important part of the solution and one in which ASHA can play a role. Long-term care financing As we look to solutions to try to mitigate the challenges associated with the workforce shortage, the industry must also face the reality that fewer people have saved for retirement, much less for the costs of assisted living. This is especially true of baby boomers. More trou- bling is that this trend is continuing with younger people. According to a national sur- vey conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research in 2013, titled "Long-term Care: Perceptions, Expe- riences, and Attitudes among Amer- icans 40 or Older," 65 percent of respondents said that they had done little or no planning for retirement, much less plan for long-term care. Surveys indicate that most people are more inclined to plan for their funeral rather than plan for their long-term care. Much of this is due to the misconception that Medi- care will pay for costs associated with long-term care. Most seniors rely on private funds or the benefits from a long-term care insurance policy, should they be part of the 10 percent who purchase this product. Until the private insurance market can create a viable product to induce a higher take-up rate and the saving habits of younger people improve, this issue must achieve higher visibility in the broader healthcare public policy debate. In the meantime, ASHA contin- ues to advocate for tax provisions to incentivize savings such as enhanced health savings accounts (HSAs), the medical expense deduc- tion, and 401(k) retirement account incentives. These tax incentives will not solve the most immediate needs of the baby boomers, but we need to simultaneously plan for the future and identify ways to finance the care and housing of seniors. The announcement by the Cen- ters for Medicare and Medicaid Ser- vices (CMS) to expand supplemen- tal benefits allowed under Medicare Advantage plans is a noteworthy change in policy that creates oppor- tunities for seniors housing provid- ers to participate in the Medicare Advantage plans. And more directly on point is the prospect in Congress for creating a public catastrophic long-term care benefit. These and other innovations are certain to play out for years to come, and ASHA and its members are well positioned to be a leading voice on these issues. n AS H A 50 2018 As we look to solutions to try to mitigate the challenges associated with the workforce shortage, the industry must also face the reality that fewer people have saved for retirement, much less for the costs of assisted living. This is especially true of baby boomers. More troubling is that this trend is continuing with younger people. — Jeanne McGlynn Delgado Vice President of Government Affairs, American Seniors Housing Association

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