Congress Must Prioritize Additional Relief Funds For Long Term Care

With Congress resuming discussions around the next COVID relief bill, lawmakers must prioritize the health of long term care residents and staff. COVID cases are rising across the country, and long term care providers need more funding to combat the virus. The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) is encouraging lawmakers to legislate and keep the long term care residents and staff top of mind.

In July, AHCA/NCAL requested priority in the next stimulus bill, which includes:

  • A two-pronged approach to testing that provides financial support for increased and prioritized testing for staff and residents.
  • ​An additional $100 billion to the Provider Relief Fund with a substantial portion dedicated to long term care, which will help providers acquire essential resources such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and staffing.
Nursing homes and assisted living communities have worked hard to stop the spread of the virus, but without additional support, facilities could face the same devastation they did earlier on during the pandemic. The funding providers have received thus far has been instrumental in helping them combat the virus, but many facilities have already exhausted these resources due to the high cost of personal protective equipment, regular testing and staff overhead. Most of the $175 billion Provider Relief Fund provided in April by the CARES Act to all types of health care providers has already been distributed. 

Last week, AHCA/NCAL released a report showing new COVID cases are increasing in nursing homes across the country due to the community spread among the general population. Independent research shows that community spread is a primary factor in the likelihood of outbreaks in long term care facilities. Long term care leaders are deeply concerned that the increase in cases will result in an increase in mortality.

With an uptick in cases, long term care providers need more support. Adequate PPE, including N95 masks, gowns and gloves, and timely testing are the most effective ways to keep residents and staff safe. However, these resources are costly and are still in short supply for many providers. A recent study by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) found that one in five nursing homes were dangerously low on one or more items, like N95s and gloves. Congressional funding would help replenish these essential supplies.

We cannot forget that the virus is still rampant, and our seniors are among the most susceptible. Congress must work together to approve additional funding to help the long term care sector prevent further outbreaks. We have already seen the positive outcomes that can occur with federal support. We must keep that momentum and ensure every facility has the means to protect their residents and staff.   

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 or www.ncal.org.