As Pandemic Continues, Long Term Care Providers Need Additional Resources And Relief

Community spread of COVID-19 continues to put the health and safety of long term care residents and staff in jeopardy. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that trends in reported COVID-19 cases among nursing home residents and staff members were similar to trends in incidence of COVID-19 in surrounding communities.

Vaccine distribution is a reason to be optimistic, but it will take time to fully vaccinate long term care residents and staff, as well as the remaining public. The virus is still poses a serious threat, and we cannot become complacent. Congress must prioritize vulnerable seniors and frontline workers as the pandemic continues.

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) is urging Congress to pass another COVID relief bill that includes aid for long term care. Specifically, AHCA/NCAL is asking for $100 billion to the Provider Relief Fund, with a substantial portion dedicated to long term care. AHCA/NCAL is also calling on Congress to ensure that long term care facilities are prioritized for other critical resources, including continued testing and proper personal protective equipment (PPE).

Long term care providers have suffered significant financial hardships due to the pandemic. The high cost of testing, PPE and staff support has caused tremendous strain on budgets. Staffing has been the top cost in response to COVID-19, with nine out of 10 nursing homes hiring additional staff and/or paying staff overtime. Admissions have declined, and the growing number of empty beds has fueled financial losses.

As a result, 90 percent of nursing homes are currently operating at a loss, and two-thirds of nursing home providers say they will not be able to sustain operations for another year at the current cost. The financial outlook is similar for assisted living communities, who have received minimal federal aid to help with pandemic-related costs. More than half of assisted living communities are operating at a loss, and a similar percentage fear they will be forced to close within a year without further assistance. Additional relief funding will help alleviate these financial challenges to help ensure facilities can keep their doors open and continue serving seniors and individuals with disabilities who need round-the-clock care.

We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes that were made at the outset of the pandemic. Long term care workers continue to do everything in their power to protect their residents, but they need ongoing support. Additional funding from Congress will ensure they have the resources necessary to continue the fight. Congress must act now and put long term care first.

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.