AHCA/NCAL Issues Statement Following Senate Finance Committee Hearing On COVID-19 In Nursing Homes

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year, released the following statement following the U.S. Senate Finance Committee’s hearing, “A National Tragedy: COVID-19 in the Nation’s Nursing Homes.”

The statement is attributable to Dr. David Gifford, chief medical officer of AHCA/NCAL:

“Once again, we appreciate Members of the Senate Finance Committee holding this hearing and their important questions about how we can learn from this national tragedy and seek to improve the care provided in America’s nursing homes.

“One of these primary challenges is how to tackle the workforce crisis in long term care. The need to attract and retain more quality caregivers to serve our nation’s most vulnerable could not be more paramount than it is right now. While we support efforts to offer more competitive wages as well as increase the number of staff at the bedside, we cannot hope to accomplish this without a considerable investment in our long term care system.

“As a labor-intensive health care provider that relies almost entirely on government reimbursement (Medicare and Medicaid), nursing homes need the support of policymakers and resources to make workforce improvements. That is why the Care For Our Seniors Act—a reform plan we issued alongside LeadingAge—offers a comprehensive approach of how Congress and other policymakers can prioritize long term care in order to help our facilities better compete for highly dedicated and trained caregivers.

“We also seek to improve the care provided in nursing homes for our seniors and individuals with disabilities. The most important thing is to address poor care and incentivize better care. The Care For Our Seniors Act also looks at how we can address chronic poor performing facilities, no matter their business structure. We need to identify why certain facilities are persistently struggling, get involved with these facilities, and if they don’t improve, they should not continue to operate.

“We support transparency of federal resources directed to nursing homes. But the most meaningful way to improve care is by focusing on infection control and increasing our workforce availability, so more nurses and caregivers can help create great outcomes for residents.

“We look forward to a continued conversation with lawmakers on how we can work collaboratively to make nursing homes a priority, address these systemic challenges, and ensure a stronger long term care system moving forward.”

Read Dr. Gifford’s full written testimony to the committee here​.

ABOUT AHCA/NCAL
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represents more than 14,000 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit www.ahcancal.org.