Through conversation with the Pennsylvania Assisted Living Association (PALA) and its national association, Argentum, Commonwealth Strategic Partners readily identified PALA’s opportunities for growth in the area of government affairs. Specifically, PALA sought assistance in raising awareness about its organization and its mission among state legislators. Seeking to draw attention to Assisted Living and Personal Care facilities as high-priority public health concerns impacted by both politics and policy, CSP began by increasing PALA’s visibility and relationships with legislative leadership in the Commonwealth.
“Fundamentally, we engaged in advocacy on PALA’s behalf, emphasizing the need for improved standards of care for Pennsylvania’s senior citizens,” Director of Pennsylvania Operations, Michael Conallen said. “Our job has been to not only highlight regulatory flaws related to Assisted Living, but to outline opportunities to rectify these issues and, in fact, improve on them dramatically.”
PALA’s first tangible goal was to increase the number of assisted living facilities in Pennsylvania. CSP, recognizing existing statutory barriers, began educating legislators about regulations that impede the development of new facilities, complicate the operations of existing facilities, and prevent assisted living facilities from accessing Medicaid funding. Emphasizing more cost-effective solutions, CSP generated concern and consensus among legislators, particularly with regard to calls for regulatory reform and the need for more facilities. In order to address the negative impact of current regulations, PALA supported legislation designed to address a number of long-standing regulatory, logistical, and funding barriers.
“In the course of engaging in this important dialogue with legislators, advancing policy change, and representing PALA’s interests,” Conallen said, “the COVID pandemic unfolded, and we wanted to ensure that federal CARES Act funding was earmarked for assisted living and personal care facilities in Pennsylvania.”
Since a sizeable number of assisted living and personal care facilities were not budgetarily prepared for the economic and public health impact of a lasting pandemic, CSP recognized the need for swift and decisive action to represent PALA’s stakes in the protection and humane care of Pennsylvania’s senior community. As a consequence of CSP’s recent consensus-building with legislators on PALA’s behalf, as well as its earnest and effective appeals for the caretaking of Pennsylvania residents in need, Pennsylvania became one of only three states in the country to specifically earmark funding for assisted living and personal care homes.
“For PALA and, by extension, Pennsylvania’s senior citizen community, we were able to secure $50 million dollars in funding to support assisted living and personal care homes across the state. It was an inspiring and humbling moment. In the end, PALA’s goals were achieved and we were equally honored to play a pivotal role in bringing the best possible health care to Pennsylvania’s residents, especially during a time of crisis,” Conallen said.