Long Term Care Must Be Included In Infrastructure Package

Advocacy; COVID-19
​​As Congress continues to negotiate a bipartisan infrastructure package, America’s seniors must be prioritized. Lawmakers must allocate support for providers to make capital improvements to nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country, so residents can receive the highest quality of care and additional protection against infectious diseases and other emergency events.

Too many facilities remain in dire need of upgrades. Nursing homes would like to evolve and make infrastructure investments, like improving technology, indoor air quality and energy backups, but many cannot afford to do so.

Chronic Medicaid underfunding left the average nursing home barely able to break even—even before the pandemic. Now, the industry is grappling with an economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Only one-quarter of nursing homes and assisted living communities are confident they will make it through to next year due to the financial strain caused by responding to the crisis. Facilities are struggling just to make ends meet—they cannot afford to provide much needed infrastructure improvements without additional help from lawmakers.

There must be significant upgrades to ensure long term care residents are protected, connected, and well cared for. Specifically, AHCA/NCAL is advocating that the infrastructure package include funding for long term care to make improvements in:
  • Indoor Air Quality: Upgrading heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, as well as humidification and air pressure helps prevent the spread of airborne infectious diseases and reduces respiratory issues, improving the health and comfort of both residents and staff.
  • Technology: Expanding access to broadband would help rural long term care providers ensure residents stay connected with their loved ones as well as enhance telehealth options.
  • Emergency Preparedness: In the face of escalating, unpredictable weather events and other natural disasters, long term care facilities need back-up energy solutions to maintain day-to-day operations, such as enhanced generator capacity, additional battery power sources, and solar panels. 
  • Enhanced Sanitization & Monitoring: Long term care facilities could implement more infection control best practices with UVC lighting and wastewater monitoring to catch and address potential risks more efficiently.

With the proper government support, nursing homes can invest in their workforce, clinical services, and infrastructure to continue to improve residents’ quality of life. AHCA and LeadingAge’s Care For Our Seniors Act includes immediate and long-term strategies to address Medicaid underfunding for nursing homes, as well as other reforms that will help boost the workforce, modernize physical structures, and enhance infection control procedures. 

We must learn from this pandemic and other national emergencies. Congress must prioritize our seniors in the infrastructure package and help provide much needed funding so long term care facilities can provide better care and be better prepared. Every resident deserves a modern, clean facility that will offer them safety and connectivity.  

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.