Advocating for senior living: A conversation with ASHA and Argentum

Tara Clayton welcomes Argentum President and CEO, James Balda and ASHA President and CEO, Dave Schless, to discuss industry advocacy, workforce issues, and how the government can make long-term care more financially accessible for more Americans.

Storm rising over United States Capitol Building, Washington DC

Tara Clayton welcomes Argentum President and CEO, James Balda and ASHA President and CEO, Dave Schless, to the show to discuss industry advocacy, workforce issues, and how the government can make long-term care financially accessible for more Americans.

Balda and Schless outline how their organizations are helping federal and state leaders better understand the senior living industry. In this discusison, they emphasize the important role the industry places in caring for older adults while also correcting misconceptions about the industry. They also highlight the important role of advocacy for the industry, which was made even more critical during the pandemic.

The two associations are also focused on identifying solutions for the workforce issues confronting the senior living industry. Balda states that workforce challenges have been the industry’s No. 1 issue for the last 20 years.

These leaders also discuss the need for new payment solutions and how they are working to open new funding opportunities to allow middle and lower income Americans to better access senior living communities.

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Key takeaways

The economic impact of the pandemic is still being felt.

Balda said:“I think our communities are still dealing with that, and we're actually starting to see some closures that we hadn't seen necessarily previously. And I think the financial strain is continuing for many of our providers. So we've got to keep up the effort, even as lawmakers are trying to put this past them.”

Workforce challenges remain industry’s top concern.

Schless said:“I think most operators are now probably spending as much time today focusing on the human resource side of the business, as opposed to getting the buildings leased up, which obviously is a top priority as well.”

Senior living must emphasize the cost-saving services it provides.

Balda said:“Let's talk about the prevention that our communities provide, impact of the socialization that we provide, the nutrition we provide, the physical activity we provide that keeps people out of hospitals.”

About our speakers

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Tara Clayton

Client Executive, Senior Living and LTC Industry Practice

Tara Clayton is a client executive in Marsh’s Senior Living and LTC Industry Practice. In this role, she advises clients with strategic and tactical advice concerning effective general and professional claim resolution, risk management, and strategies to obtain maximum insurance coverage across lines of coverage. Tara’s expertise with complex litigation and creative risk management initiatives helps reduce costs, enhance value, and increase client control of their risk management programs.

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James Balda

President and CEO of Argentum

James Balda is President and CEO of Argentum, the leading national trade association serving companies that own, operate, and support professionally managed senior living communities in the United States. 

Throughout the pandemic, he has led the organization’s focus on critical political advocacy and action including obtaining first-in-line COVID vaccine status for assisted living residents, relief funding for senior living providers, and introduction of congressional legislation supporting providers and a strong senior living workforce, putting him on The Hill’s 2021 Top Lobbyist roster.

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David Schless

President & CEO of the American Seniors Housing Association

David Schless has served as president & CEO of the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA) since its creation in 1991. ASHA is comprised of senior executives from the nation’s leading developers, owners, operators, and financiers of purpose-built, professionally managed seniors housing.  ASHA provides thought leadership related to quality and innovation, research, strategic business information, and influences legislative and regulatory matters.

With over 30 years of experience, David has been involved in many of the industry’s most significant research studies during this time. He has an intimate understanding of policy and regulatory issues, an in-depth knowledge of the business of seniors housing, and helped launch the industry’s first-ever consumer education initiative, “Where You Live Matters”.