There was a post in today’s HealthAffairs Blog (see links at the end of this post) with some helpful insights on the importance of affordable housing as a key element of being able promote and sustain healthy aging. I have written rather extensively over the years in this space on this topic, and I have long been an advocate for Affordable Housing Plus Services.
I don’t recall if I’ve shared this here before or not, but I once had the opportunity to ask directly a former Secretary of Health & Human Services why there wasn’t more effective communication and coordination of policy initiatives between HHS and HUD. The response was unflattering: that was a great idea without a plausible explanation for why it had not been actively pursued. Thus be to bureaucracy.
If I could build upon the major policy themes pointed out in the HA post, something I have learned over the past five years is that a primary reason acute care providers struggle to understand post-acute care is because post-acute care is a lot more complicated than I understood. And, of course, I make that observation somewhat tongue-in-cheek because that’s all I’ve done for the past two decades.
But this article reminded me again how complex post-acute/long-term care can be. And that’s because it’s not just about providing good healthcare. It’s very much about where that healthcare is going to be provided (in what structure does the patient live). It’s about what support services are available to assist the patient with activities of daily living (in what community does the patient live). It’s about hospitality and entertainment (who wants the sole focus of their life to be an illness?) And it’s about insurance because most often care providers and/or insurers are underwriting extended care for which it is often difficult to predict duration, complexity and cost.
The same fundamental attributes that make it a complex delivery model make it a complex policy issue. Acute care providers are being more intimately connected with post-acute care providers every day through healthcare public policy initiatives. My counsel is they would do well to begin understanding the root causes of what makes post-acute and long-term care more complex than they may have realized.