Urgent Need For Congress To Approve Additional Relief Funding For Long Term Care Facilities

Long term care providers still face an uphill battle when it comes to fighting COVID-19. COVID cases in nursing homes have now surpassed their peak in the spring due to the growing surge in cases among the general population. Top academic experts continue to point to community spread as a primary factor in the likelihood of outbreaks in long term care facilities.

With the holiday season underway and winter months approaching, the situation may get worse before it gets better. Thanksgiving travel contributed to the current surge in cases, and Christmas travel is expected to result in the same.

There is still time for Congress to pass another COVID stimulus bill during the lame duck session. As lawmakers continue to deliberate, and with two COVID relief bills introduced this week, AHCA/NCAL is urging lawmakers to take action to prioritize long term care residents and staff.

Two COVID relief bills were announced on Monday. The additional resources proposed for the Provider Relief Fund, as well as financial support specifically directed to long term care providers, is a step in the right direction. The $2 billion proposed for long term care providers would be particularly helpful as they cope with increased expenses for everything from PPE to staffing. We urge Congress to reach an agreement on these proposals and take swift action to get support to long term care staff and residents across the country.

The COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use, and distribution has begun. Several governors have prioritized long term care residents and staff for the vaccine, and providers are starting to roll out distribution in their facilities. Governors who have not yet finalized their distribution plans should follow suit.

While the vaccine is a significant turning point, the fight is not over. It will likely take months for all residents and staff members to receive the necessary two doses to receive full protection from the virus, and AHCA/NCAL has challenged all states to accomplish this by March 1. In the meantime, long term care providers will still need the tools they need to win, including PPE, testing and staffing support. Reports of staffing shortages have grown in recent weeks. Providers across the country are facing dire shortages of workers, putting added strain on their workforce. Even after the vaccine, experts are advising health care providers and individuals to remain vigilant about wearing PPE, the number one cost for many long term care providers at the moment. Long term care providers cannot continue to fight the pandemic without the financial support of Congress.

Members of Congress must come to an agreement during the lame duck session to pass another stimulus package. Long term care residents and staff cannot afford to wait.

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.