McKnights.com reports this morning that some 60,000 AARP members have discontinued their membership since June 1, 2009.  The ostensible reason? Disagreement over AARP’s seeming position in the health care reform debate.  Though AARP has not endorsed any presented plan as of yet, certain statements by its leadership indicate that the largest association representing America’s retired population is more in support of, rather than opposition to, the reform plans on the table.

The article goes on to say that the majority of those leaving the AARP are joining the American Seniors Association.

The AARP has long been one of the most powerful political voices in matters concerning elder care, if for no other reason than it represents huge numbers of active voters.  It is concerning that the health care reform debate is weakening that front.

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As was reported by Life Services Network, Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff, John Harris were arrested this morning by FBI agents on federal corruption charges alleging that they and others are engaging in ongoing criminal activity; conspiring to obtain personal financial benefits for Blagojevich by leveraging his sole authority  to appoint the United States Senate seat vacated by President Elect Obama; threatening to withhold substantial state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members sharply critical of Blagojevich; and to obtain campaign contributions in exchange for official actions both historically and now in a push before a new state ethics law takes effect January 1, 2009.  (See US Attorney’s Press Release and Criminal Complaint).

This is shocking news to everyone who lives and works in Illinois, but it is making LTC Administrators terribly nervous.  Illinois is last among the fifty states in two important Medicaid payer source metrics: 1) amount paid per resident day; and 2) (in)frequency of state payments.  A few days ago, state officials agreed to borrow 1.4 billion dollars and begin paying off the nearly 4 billion in accumulated debts.  (See story here).  One of the chief among these debts, of course, is the State’s Nursing Home Medicaid payments.  

 It is unclear whether and how the arrests of the Governor and his Chief of Staff will affect the loan/payoff plan.  The issue is really a Comptroller’s Office one, but with Medicaid payments over half-a-year behind (and no payment for over a quarter), any shake-up at the upper levels of government has the potential to make things much worse rather than better. 

We will be following this story very closely.