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The Election Impact: Issues at Stake and the Future of Senior Living – Part 1

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A conversation with Ed Kenny, Chairman and CEO of LCS

With the presidential election just days away, the “commander in chief” of the LCS Family of Companies addresses hot-button issues impacting senior living. In this two-part series, Ed Kenny talks about the good, the not so good, and challenges and opportunities ahead for the senior living industry.

Medicare is always a prominent topic. How do you see it changing following the Presidential and congressional elections?

Medicare is a very good program, and it’s here to stay. That said, the status quo is not an option. The most pressing issue in the next 6 years for the senior living sector is the topic of entitlement reform. Medicare as we know it will not work in the future if it’s not addressed, and I do think change will happen. Some describe entitlement reform like bubble-gum flavored penicillin. You know you have to take it, but it tastes awful.

What is your point of view on pricing for health care services, and more importantly transparency?

Here’s an illustration. We’d never go to a grocery store, put a bunch of items on the conveyor belt to check out, and then walk out not knowing what it all costs. In health care, we do this. We go and get services, walk out and maybe pay a set copay, but we really don’t know what the “bag of groceries” we just consumed costs until much later.

And even more perplexing, the “groceries” can be different prices for different people…

Exactly. Or another way to look at it is: Two people get the same bag of groceries, check out at different times, and they pay much different prices … and no one knows what they were charged. More transparency on the front end of health care purchases will better educate consumers and should stimulate greater competition among health care providers.

Like Medicare, the same situation applies to Social Security. Status quo is not an option. We have two choices – adjust taxes to increase dollars that flow into the program or change the benefits to reduce expenditures. Personally, I think we need to have the discussion about means testing, where people with higher incomes pay higher prices for services. There are other possible solutions. One guarantee is that tough decisions will need to be made, and the sooner the better.

How do you think the delivery of health care services will change? Ed-Kenny2-Experience-Screen-Grab

There is going to be more and more managed care as part of a care coordination approach to the delivery of services. In the future, more seniors will have to be members of a managed care group, and that’s going to pose challenges and opportunities for all of us in senior living. Care coordination will be a greater responsibility of the senior housing provider.

In many markets, there won’t be as much flexibility as there is today. Bottom line, we need a more competitive environment in how we approach and deliver health care services for everyone.

On the issue of long-term care, both parties have stated that seniors should have better and more affordable access to services. Both have pledged to expand home health care options and make it a priority in public policy. Is that a concern?

I don’t view home health care as a threat to senior living. I don’t view community-based services as a threat either. The senior market will be so large in the coming years that access to more and different care options will be good for consumer choice.

What kind of voice does the senior living industry need to have now and as we look to the future?

As an industry, we need to do a better job of having a voice at the table as it relates to legislative change. All senior living organizations need to work with our trade associations to be aligned and have a unified voice to continue building a more robust government relations program.

I hope politicians know that in less than 15 years, 20% of the American population will be over 65 years old. It’s going to pose challenges to the country and families. Senior housing is part of the solution. Let’s have some applause and recognition for all we do, and build optimism for the future.

We need to change the tone of the conversation about senior living. We need to embrace, acknowledge and celebrate the great things being done day-in and day-out in communities. We need to work to get those stories out there in the public, with residents, their families, and all stakeholders.

Stay tuned…lcs-22948-7-1_tweet-quote

Part II of the conversation with Ed Kenny focuses on:

  • Government regulations and reducing burdensome legislation
  • Keys to building industry standards and steps for advancement
  • Minimum wage escalation and improving workforce development
  • Five strategic imperatives for public policy to help the industry thrive

About Ed Kenny:

Ed is the chairman and chief executive officer of LCS. In this role, he provides strategic leadership to a dynamic organization that serves more than 35,000 seniors nationwide. Under Ed’s direction, the LCS Family of Companies have grown to become leading providers of high-quality senior lifestyle products and services, and the third-largest senior living management company in the country. Ed assumed the top executive position at LCS in 2006. He began his association with the organization in 1979, initially serving as executive director for several communities managed by Life Care Services®, An LCS Company. Currently, Ed serves as chair for the board of managers for Life Care Companies, and is the chair of the board of directors of LCS Holdings, Inc. He serves on the boards of Argentum and National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC), chairs the public policy committee for Argentum, and is a past chairman of the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA). Ed holds a bachelor of science in health services administration from Providence College.