by Collin Reischman
Jefferson City, MO — The Missouri Health Care Association (MHCA) is a leading voice in Missouri’s healthcare discussion, and their Executive Director, Jon Dolan, is one of the most recognizable faces in the capitol. MHCA represents more than 350 of Missouri’s 500+ skilled nursing facilities and many assisted living facilities. As the premier long-term care trade association in the state, Dolan and the MHCA are the advocates for the daily caregivers to Missouri’s senior citizens.
“Our mission is fighting for the full funding of the costs associated with caring for some of the most needy and vulnerable in society according to mandated cost reports and working for fair and effective regulations for the facilities and members we serve,” Dolan said. Funding is a key area for healthcare providers, and in Dolan’s 7 years with the MHCA, funding has remained the same or increased, with no cuts to care, a major victory for any program during economic times that saw plenty of services funding slashed or reduced.
Funding through Medicaid and Medicare has a reputation as historically inadequate, and maintaining enough funding to provide quality care is Dolan’s primary objective.
“We know we’re the red-headed stepchild of healthcare providers, but we’re proud of our frugal nature,” Dolan said. “We get it done for less, and I would argue that with the exception of our neo-natal units in hospitals, which are well funded, we serve the neediest folks in the state.”
Dolan, entering his 8th year as Executive Director, is a former three-term Missouri House member and former Missouri State Senator. Experience and personal relationships with the legislators, combined with Dolan’s own reputation as charming, gregarious, and fast talking give the MHCA an edge in winning the important fights in the capitol.
“It’s important to connect constituencies with government,” Dolan said. “So if you can reach into a local community and find what the people need and then bring those voices to our association and lobbyists, we can connect the voters to their government.”
Last session, Dolan credited MHCA Director of Government Affairs, Nikki Strong, with skillfully helping the legislature pass an expansion of the Elder Exploitation Law, making it harder for family members to misappropriate social security funds or co-pay funds.
“We have situations with family members taking money that is supposed to be going to the care of their loved one, and instead it’s ending up in someone’s bank account who isn’t in need of long-term healthcare.”
Individual responsibility is important to Dolan, and the MHCA.
“Everybody is working hard, and the public good is being spent on healthcare, we must be accountable and we can’t let people obfuscate or slow down that process.”
As Dolan and the MHCA move forward, specific priorities change from year to year, but their larger goals remain the same. Dolan told The Missouri Times that the average cost at one of their facilities for full-time care of an elderly Missourian was about $160/day. Funding currently provides about $146/day. Decreasing that disparity is a top priority for Dolan.
A “fair compromise” on Tort Reform as well as Medicaid expansion are both on Dolan’s radar as well. But he knows these issues will require much education and a little political maneuvering.
“You can support Medicaid expansion and not support Obamacare,” Dolan said. “It’s about saying, how do we get another billion dollars into Missouri for healthcare and what comes with it? What can we do to let Missouri make her own choices and control her own fate?”
How Dolan’s support will weigh on more conservative lawmakers fighting against the expansion is unknown, but his relationships at the capitol might make it a little easier on him.
Dolan concluded that he feels that the future of long-term care will be heavily influenced at the federal level and specifically mentioned federal lawmakers Jo Ann Emerson and Ann Wagner as people he enjoyed working with. “Could you have a better campaign or a classier woman than Ann Wagner?” Dolan said. “Jo Ann [Emerson] was just a rockstar on healthcare she was so passionate and will be missed.”
What others are saying about the MHCA:
“When I entered the legislature MHCA was simply not a top association I turned to on healthcare policy. Then they made what in my opinion was a statement hire of Jon Dolan, and by the time I left the senate they were one of the first groups I turned to first for advice on healthcare issues.” – former Senator Jason Crowell
“The Missouri Health Care Association under the direction of Jon Dolan has worked closely with the legislature to ensure long term patient care is meeting the needs of our aging population while reaching practical solutions for facilities management. Since those approaching the golden years is an increasing sector of our population, having capable individuals leading the discussion to meet the needs of those individuals is an area the Missouri Health Care Association excels with professionalism.” – State Representative Linda Black
“Jon and his team at the MO Health Care Association are great to work with. You can expect Jon to be straightforward and accurate with his information. His knowledge of the healthcare industry and witty personality makes for an enjoyable working relationship.” – State Representative Shelley Keeney
“Jon is a consummate professional and has a keen understanding of the legislative process”. – Senator Eric Schmitt
“Jon Dolan and the MHCA are excellent advocates for our seniors here in the State of Missouri and are dedicated, through their many members, to providing the delivery first rate health care and meeting the challenges of the health care industry in today’s challenging times.” – Speaker of the House Tim Jones
“During the time I’ve been in the legislature there has been no association that has improved their interaction with the legislature like the MHCA has under Jon Dolan.” – State Senator Brad Lager
“Jon Dolan is what I like to think of as an extra credit guy. He not only knows 100% of the information on a issue he is working on he knows 110%.” – State Senator John Lamping
“Jon Dolan is a great asset to the Missouri Healthcare Association because of his knowledge about the political system and complex healthcare laws. He is also compassionate and caring about the patients and the caregivers. That’s a good combination for improving healthcare in Missouri.” – former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman
“It’s exciting to see business groups, community groups and policy experts coming together to expand Medicaid for the state” – Sean Nicholson Progress Missouri
“Jon’s leadership at MHCA has been excellent. Look at their success on the rate issue from when he started and today. It is impossible to state that he hasn’t consistently performed for the organization”. – State Senator Scott Rupp
“Jon Dolan may be the most passionate lobbyist in Jefferson City. He cares about his members and is a forceful advocate on their issues. He is also the fastest talker I’ve ever met” – State Representative Todd Richardson
“Jon Dolan has a unique perspective of understanding his association’s needs, but also those of the state’s budget. That insight makes him much more effective in his advocacy of MHCA” – State Representative Kevin Engler
Collin Reischman is the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. To contact Collin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @CMReischman