Congress Must Provide Additional Relief Funds For Long Term Care Providers

As discussions around the next stimulus bill continue, the health of millions of long term care residents and staff is at stake. Billions of dollars are on the line to help the country address the impact of COVID-19, and the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) is encouraging lawmakers to legislate and pass a relief package. In July, AHCA/NCAL requested priority in the next stimulus bill, including: 

  • A two-pronged approach to testing that provides financial support for increased and prioritized testing for providers and residents.
  • An additional $100 billion to the Provider Relief Fund with a substantial portion dedicated to long term care.
  • ​Vaccine priority to residents and staff.
Most of the $175 billion Provider Relief Fund provided in April by the CARES Act has already been distributed, but long term care providers will need additional funding to continue fighting the virus – especially with new COVID cases now rising among the general population in the majority of the country.

AHCA/NCAL released a report last week that showed that a third spike in cases could occur in long term care facilities due to increasing community spread. Recent data from Johns Hopkins and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) shows that weekly nursing home cases rose in late September for the first time in seven weeks after new cases dropped significantly throughout August and early September. According to Johns Hopkins, COVID cases in the general U.S. population rose by 62,139 cases per week in late September correlating with an uptick in nursing home cases during the week of September 27.

With a third spike looming, long term care providers need reinforced support. Adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), including gowns, gloves and N95 masks, and timely testing are the most effective ways to keep residents and staff safe. These supplies are especially important as some states move to resume visitation. But these resources come with considerable costs, which is why additional funding from Congress is so critical.
 
Without replenishing funds, the country could repeat the same mistakes that were made during the initial outbreak in the spring and the major spike over the summer. Nursing homes and assisted living communities could find themselves unprepared for the challenges of the upcoming winter season, which could inevitably result in an uptick in new COVID cases.   

We cannot forget that the virus still poses a considerable threat to long term care residents and staff. Congress must prioritize our vulnerable seniors and their caregivers by passing another bill as soon as possible. The funding long term care providers have received thus far has helped, but without another round of funding, providers risk losing the progress they’ve made. 

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.