AHCA/NCAL Requests Extension for Provider Relief Fund Reporting Released:June 03, 2021 AHCAPressOffice@ahca.org Page ContentThe Provider Relief Fund (PRF) established by the CARES Act has been an instrumental resource for health care providers amid the pandemic. Long term care facilities have received approximately $14 billion of the $178 billion in the PRF since the pandemic began, which has helped providers with the exorbitant costs associated with combating the virus. Personal protective equipment (PPE), testing, hiring additional workers and providing hero pay are just a few things the aid has helped pay for. For many providers, the funding was the difference between keeping their doors open or closing them for good. Recipients of PRF funding are subject to reporting requirements set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS has set a deadline of June 30, 2021 for recipients to report how the PRF funds have been used and to return any unused funds. The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) sent a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in April, requesting that the reporting deadline be extended to December 30, 2022. In the letter, AHCA/NCAL explains why the extension is needed: Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and assisted living communities (ALCs) will experience ongoing higher operating costs while occupancy remains at record lows. The industry is expected to lose $94 billion over a two-year period (2020-2021) due to the skyrocketing costs to fight the pandemic. In 2020, nursing homes spent roughly $30 billion on PPE and additional staffing alone. Many SNFs and ALC providers faced financial struggles even before the pandemic, but the situation is becoming more dire with the industry anticipating record closures.Declining occupancy has compounded financial challenges. SNF occupancy declined by 16.5 percent between January 2020 and January 2021. Occupancy rates for ALCs dropped to a record-low 77.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020. Our research estimates that more than 1,600 SNFs could close in 2021. A recent AHCA/NCAL member survey indicated that 56 percent of ALCs would not be able to maintain operations at current levels an additional 12 months without additional revenue or financial relief.AHCA/NCAL is not alone in requesting an extension. Congresswoman Cindy Axne (D-IA-03) and Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA-02) also sent a letter to Secretary Becerra – co-signed by nearly 80 Republican and Democrat Members – asking that the June 30 deadline be extended for health providers to use the funds, and that remaining PRF funding be distributed as soon as possible. The American Hospital Association requested that the deadline be extended until the end of the public health emergency. Restaurants, which also experienced significant hardships over the course of the pandemic, have until 2023 to use COVID relief funding. AHCA/NCAL hopes that HHS takes the same approach with the PRF for health care providers. Federal lawmakers rallied around long term care facilities and gave them some of the critical assistance they needed, but they still need support. COVID-related expenditures will remain constant for the foreseeable future. Extending the reporting deadline will help long term care providers maintain operations and continue to protect our most vulnerable citizens and frontline health care heroes. ABOUT AHCA/NCALThe 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.