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A Zen proverb, "Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water," applies to the aging services field in the face of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
LeadingAge's mission is to expand the world of possibilities for aging. We help people obtain the long-term services and supports they need, when they need them, in whatever place they call home.
Our members help families in caring for loved ones in many settings. As not-for-profits, LeadingAge members find ways to cover the cost of high-quality, essential services.
Supreme Court action will not change the expectations the public has of us and we have of ourselves around our responsibilities.
Our members have served for generations before the Affordable Care Act, and even before Medicare and Medicaid were passed. They will continue to do so regardless of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision or whatever Congress may subsequently do to the ACA.
While there has been endless debate about the ACA, LeadingAge supported it because we believe in 4 major directions in which it will take health and long-term care.
The ACA facilitated innovative service delivery.
If the ACA is overturned, modified or sustained, we will have to find different and better ways to fulfill our missions. Because our work is essential and will become even more so as the population ages more rapidly.
Part of our not-for-profit responsibility is to develop innovative solutions to these demographic challenges to meet complex needs at a time when people -- especially older women -- often have outlived most of their financial resources.
Regardless of opinions about the ACA, it elevated debate over fundamental themes that have great resonance for the field of long-term services and supports.
In terms of societal values, these themes raise big questions for all of us:
Other questions relate to reforms of the health and long-term care delivery systems which were an important feature of the Affordable Care Act:
The debate over these themes will continue even though the Supreme Court has ruled. LeadingAge members will continue to be leaders in the debate, to craft the right policies for the right reasons and to provide innovative solutions.
With the ruling, we anticipate the Affordable Care Act will now move forward. We have a responsibility to our aging population to come up with policies and programs to meet their needs now.
We will continue to work with members of both political parties, of both houses of Congress, the White House and federal agencies to move forward toward a healthy, ethical and affordable system of long-term services and supports.
Chop wood, carry water.