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New Study Shows Effectiveness of the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine in Nursing Home Settings, Reinforcing Need to Prioritize Residents and Staff for Ongoing Allocationsaspx5/13/2021 4:00:00 AM<p>​<br></p><div>A new <a href="https&#58;//agsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jgs.17224" target="_blank">study</a> published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society by the Center for Health Policy and Evaluation in Long-Term Care (CHPE), the research division of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), finds that Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines are effective in reducing new cases and deaths among residents and staff in long term care. While previous studies have confirmed effectiveness among the general population, the CHPE study is the first to confirm effectiveness within nursing homes.</div><div><br></div><div>The study was conducted among 2,501 nursing homes that held a vaccine clinic from the first 17 states to initiate the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long‐Term Care Program. CHPE researchers found that these nursing homes experienced reduced spread of COVID-19 among both residents and staff as well as a decline in deaths among residents after their first vaccination clinics, especially five to six weeks after the clinics.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>Marsida Domi, senior research analyst at CHPE and lead author of the study <a href="https&#58;//www.mcknights.com/news/clinical-news/nursing-home-study-is-first-to-affirm-feds-choice-to-prioritize-residents-staff-for-vaccines/" target="_blank">said</a>, “This data is extremely encouraging and shows that the vaccines are working,” and added that the results have positive implications for the future quality of life in nursing homes as the pandemic continues.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>The results of the study confirm continued calls for vaccine prioritization for long term care residents and staff for the foreseeable future. AHCA/NCAL has asked federal and state leaders to ensure that long term care residents and staff remain first in line and have rapid access to the vaccines. Nursing homes and assisted living communities regularly accept new residents and hire new staff members – many of whom may not yet be vaccinated.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>With the findings of the study, ensuring as many residents and staff as possible get vaccinated has never been more important. AHCA/NCAL continues to promote vaccine education and uptake through their national <a href="https&#58;//getvaccinated.us/" target="_blank">#GetVaccinated</a> campaign. The campaign, launched with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has helped improve vaccine confidence, leading to an <a href="/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/New-Survey-Finds-94-Percent-Increase-In-Willingness-Of-Long-Term-Care-Staff-To-Take-COVID-19-Vaccine.aspx" target="_blank">increase in willingness</a> among long term care staff to get vaccinated. AHCA is hopeful they will meet the industry’s nationwide goal to get <a href="/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/Nursing-Homes-Set-Goal-To-Get-75-Percent-Of-Staff-Vaccinated-By-June-30.aspx" target="_blank">75 percent</a> of all nursing home staff vaccinated by June 30, 2021.&#160;<br></div><div><br></div><div>In addition to support from federal and state governments, members of the public must also do their part to contain the virus, as outbreaks within the general population are a direct threat to long term care residents and staff. This means getting vaccinated as soon as they are able and continuing to practice CDC guidelines when it comes to social distancing and wearing masks.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>It has been a long road, but we cannot stop fighting until the pandemic is fully over. Lawmakers and public health officials must continue to make long term care their top priority for the vaccines and other resources, so we can protect our seniors and health care heroes on the frontlines.</div><div><br></div><div><strong>ABOUT AHCA/NCAL</strong></div><div>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 <a href="/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a>.<br></div>A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society by the CHPE finds that Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines are effective in reducing new cases and deaths among residents and staff in long term care.
Strengthening Long Term Care Workforce Key to Providing Transformational Change in Nursing Homesaspx5/11/2021 4:00:00 AM<p>​</p><div>The latest jobs report from the federal government renews the need to address the U.S. long term care workforce crisis. Axios <a href="https&#58;//www.axios.com/nursing-home-jobs-b7266746-66bc-4b34-b508-eff8890b5bc5.html" target="_blank">reported</a> yesterday, “Health care employment in the U.S. remained sluggish last month, with a drop of about 19,500 nursing and residential care facility jobs, according to the latest labor report.” The economic crisis caused by the pandemic is apparent, and while policymakers should take immediate action to protect health care jobs, we should also develop a more substantial plan to ensure our nation’s seniors have the caregivers they need.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>This is especially important given our rapidly-growing elderly population and the anticipated increase in demand for long term care services. In fact, the federal government estimates nearly 27 million people will need some kind of long term care by 2050. Meanwhile, last week, the federal government reported historic declines in birth rates, leading many to <a href="https&#58;//nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/05/amid-pandemic-u-s-birth-rate-falls-to-century-low.html" target="_blank">worry</a> whether we will have enough caregivers to support an aging America.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>A strong workforce is a key element in improving quality of care in our nation’s nursing homes. The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) has long called for policies that will help attract and retain the most dedicated to work in the profession – now it’s time to implement them. AHCA and LeadingAge’s comprehensive reform proposal, the <a href="/Advocacy/Pages/Care-For-Our-Seniors-Act.aspx" target="_blank">Care for Our Seniors Act</a>, offers several solutions that will help build a strong long term care workforce. Proposed solutions include&#58;</div><div><br></div><div>Financial assistance&#58;&#160;</div><div><ul><li>​Provide student loan forgiveness for licensed health care professionals who are new graduates and work in long term care.</li><li>Develop assistance programs for caregivers like affordable housing, housing down payments, and childcare.</li><li>Provide career ladder scholarships that would encourage staff to advance their career by becoming a registered nurse (RN) or other positions in aging services.</li><li>Funding for universities who have shown graduation rates with direct correlation to long term care hires with retention of two years or more.<br></li></ul></div><div>Regulatory solutions&#58;&#160;</div><div><ul><li>Create a pathway (including training and testing) for temporary nurse aides allowed by the current Public Health Emergency to become certified nurse aides.</li><li>Ensure the Nurse Licensure Compact is available in every state to be able to &quot;share&quot; RNs across state borders.</li><li>Expedite the progression in licensed practical nurse to RN bridge programs to increase the number of RNs.</li><li>Pass common-sense immigration reform that increases opportunities for foreign-born individuals to work in the long term care profession.&#160;<span style="font-size&#58;11pt;">Expand the ability for international nurses to come to the United States.</span></li></ul></div><div>The COVID-19 pandemic has exemplified the critical role of long term care workers within our health care system, and we must work together to support them. With the assistance from Members of Congress and state lawmakers, we can create more meaningful jobs, ensure our nursing homes are adequately staffed, and in turn, ensure that all seniors are able to receive the best care possible.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div><strong>ABOUT AHCA/NCAL</strong></div><div>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 <a href="/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a>.​<br></div>The latest jobs report from the federal government renews the need to address the U.S. long term care workforce crisis.
AHCA/NCAL Issues Statement Following CMS Interim Final Rule Announcementaspx5/11/2021 4:00:00 AM<p></p><div>WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and long term care facilities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year, released a statement following the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) interim final rule announcement on COVID-19 vaccine requirements.</div><div><br></div><div>The statement is attributable to Dr. David Gifford, chief medical officer of AHCA/NCAL&#58;</div><div><br></div><div>“We have been supportive of publicly reporting COVID-19 vaccination rates in long term care since the vaccines were first approved, and we greatly appreciate CMS taking this step today. Reporting vaccination rates is critical to facilitating in-person visitations in nursing homes, tracking the effectiveness of the vaccines, and helping ensure the industry meets our goal to vaccinate 75 percent of staff by the end of June.</div><div>&#160;</div><div>“It is important that we not judge facilities with low vaccination rates, but instead, seek to understand whether additional resources or outreach can be done to encourage more staff and residents to get the vaccine, or help facilities acquire additional vaccines for new patients and hires.</div><div>&#160;</div><div>“We believe transparency on vaccination rates should be expanded to all Medicare providers, including hospitals, home health, and inpatient rehabilitation facilities, where many of our nation’s seniors may also receive care and the virus can still remain a threat. All Medicare providers should have a streamlined effort to report their vaccination rates.”</div><div><br></div><div><strong>ABOUT AHCA/NCAL</strong></div><div>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 <a href="/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a>.<br></div>AHCA/NCAL released a statement following the CMS interim final rule announcement on COVID-19 vaccine requirements.
National Skilled Nursing Care Week Kicks off May 9-15aspx5/7/2021 4:00:00 AM<p></p><div><strong>WASHINGTON, D.C.</strong> –National Skilled Nursing Care Week (NSNCW) kicks off this Sunday, May 9, through Saturday, May 15. The annual observance shines a light on the essential role of skilled nursing centers in caring for America’s elderly and disabled.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>This year’s theme, “Together Through the Seasons,” recognizes the heroic staff in skilled nursing centers across the nation for their dedication and sacrifice in keeping residents safe and protected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the many challenges faced, including lockdowns and the lack of personal protective equipment, staff also stepped in to provide emotional support to residents and their families impacted by visitation restrictions and social distancing rules.&#160;&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>“National Skilled Nursing Care Week is more special this year than any other year,” said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association (AHCA). “As we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, let’s take time this coming week to reflect, honor and celebrate every long term care staff member for their tireless commitment to caring for and protecting our vulnerable residents against one of the deadliest diseases in recent history.”</div><div><br></div><div>Created by AHCA in 1967, NSNCW is a time to celebrate staff and the special bonds they share with residents and their families. The week starts each year on Mother’s Day and is celebrated through the following Saturday.</div><div><br></div><div>Skilled nursing centers are encouraged to participate by hosting activities that follow the latest guidelines and share how they are celebrating being “Together Through the Seasons” on <a href="https&#58;//www.facebook.com/NationalSkilledNursingCareWeek/">Facebook</a> and <a href="https&#58;//twitter.com/ahcancal" target="_blank">Twitter</a> using the hashtag <strong>#NSNCW</strong>.&#160;&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>NSNCW 2021 is proudly sponsored by Essity. For more information about NSNCW, please visit <a href="/Education-Events/Pages/NSNCW.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org/NSNCW</a>.</div><div><br></div><div><strong>ABOUT AHCA/NCAL</strong></div><div>The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represent 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 <a href="/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a>.<br></div>Annual Observance Honors The Essential Role Of Skilled Nursing Centers In Caring For America’s Elderly And DisabledNSNCW kicks off this Sunday, May 9, through Saturday, May 15.
‘Compassion, Community, Caring’ Revealed as Theme for National Assisted Living Week 2021aspx5/6/2021 4:00:00 AM<p></p><div>WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) today revealed “Compassion, Community, Caring” as this year’s theme for National Assisted Living Week®. The annual, national observance – officially sponsored by First Quality in 2021 – provides a unique opportunity for residents, their loved ones, staff, volunteers, and local communities to celebrate the individuals who live and work in assisted living and learn more about this sector of long term care.&#160;&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>“This year’s National Assisted Living Week is special because of everything we have faced over the past year,” said NCAL Executive Director Scott Tittle. “‘Compassion, Community, Caring’ reflects the hard work and dedication of all the essential caregivers in assisted living communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also represents the importance of family and remaining connected, even when we could not physically be together.”&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>Established by NCAL in 1995, National Assisted Living Week (NALW) will be held Sept. 12-18, 2021. “Compassion, Community, Caring” encourages assisted living communities around the country to host a variety of events that honor the individuals who reside, work, and volunteer in these communities while adhering to infection control requirements and precautions in place for COVID-19.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>“First Quality is honored to be the official sponsor of National Assisted Living Week in 2021,” said Shelley Bache, First Quality Healthcare Leader. “After one of the most challenging years ever, it is imperative to remember and celebrate those in assisted living communities who did so much in the midst of so many unknowns. This week is a time to come together in a safe way and recognize the ‘Compassion, Community, Caring’ that could not be stopped by a pandemic.”</div><div><br></div><div>In the coming months, NCAL will issue a planning guide and products centered on ways to celebrate “Compassion, Community, Caring.” Participants are asked to share their celebrations throughout the week on social media with the hashtag <strong>#NALW</strong>. Visit <a href="/Education-Events/Pages/NALW.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org/NALW</a> for updated information and resources.</div><div><br></div><div><strong>ABOUT AHCA/NCAL</strong></div><div>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 <a href="/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a>.<br></div>National celebration to take place Sept. 12-18, 2021NCAL today revealed “Compassion, Community, Caring” as this year’s theme for National Assisted Living Week®.
Transforming Long Term Care: Maintaining Minimum Supply of Personal Protective Equipmentaspx5/4/2021 4:00:00 AM<p></p><div>Personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, gowns and gloves, are an essential component in protecting long term care residents and staff from COVID-19. The continued use of PPE will be a standard practice in long term care facilities, even after the pandemic is far behind us.</div><div><br></div><div>PPE improves infection control outcomes and has the potential to reduce mortality rates associated with infectious disease outbreaks. This is especially important in protecting vulnerable long term care residents, whose average age is 85 and who have multiple underlying health conditions, making them especially susceptible.</div><div><br></div><div><a href="https&#58;//uspirg.org/feature/usp/nursing-home-safety-during-covid-ppe-shortages" target="_blank">Widespread shortages of PPE</a> due to global supply chain issues in the beginning of the pandemic led to <a href="https&#58;//khn.org/news/article/anthony-fauci-interview-health-care-workers-covid-pandemic-death-toll/" target="_blank">devastating consequences</a> in long term care and other health care settings. Providers were left scrambling trying to find PPE, competing against each other and businesses, and pleading for priority to public health officials. We cannot let this happen again.</div><div><br></div><div>The Care for Our Seniors Act – a transformational policy proposal introduced by the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and LeadingAge – calls for every nursing home to maintain a minimum 30-day supply for PPE for average conventional use. This includes&#58;<br><br></div><div><ul><li>​​All PPE items (gloves, gowns, goggles/face shields, facemasks, N-95 masks)</li><li>Alcohol-based hand rubs and disinfecting supplies</li><li>Backup/reserve supply not in current circulation (but rotated out per expiration dates, etc.)<br></li></ul></div><div>In order to meet this requirement, PPE must be available, accessible and affordable. Nursing homes need public-private partnerships to ensure a steady supply of PPE, and lawmakers must prioritize long term care residents and staff for allocation.</div><div><br></div><div>The cost of PPE is considerable – nursing homes spent roughly <a href="/News-and-Communications/Fact-Sheets/FactSheets/Financial-Infographic.pdf" target="_blank">$20 billion on PPE</a> and staffing in 2020 alone. These exorbitant costs are expected to continue with the pandemic persisting and the <a href="https&#58;//www.premierinc.com/newsroom/blog/premier-data-the-state-of-ppe-supply-one-year-in-to-covid-19" target="_blank">ongoing demand for PPE</a> among every business and health care setting. With PPE becoming a permanent expenditure, lawmakers must commit to supporting long term care providers with financial assistance so they can afford this essential equipment. The Care for Our Seniors Act proposes funding by federal and state governments in the following phases&#58;&#160;<br><br></div><div><ul><li>​Initial supply through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Provider Relief Fund</li><li>Ongoing supply maintenance funded in a combination of Health Resources &amp; Services Administration or Centers for Disease Control and <span style="font-size&#58;11pt;">Prevention (CDC) grants and Enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage</span></li></ul></div><div>Our frontline caregivers deserve to have the masks, gowns, and gloves they need to protect themselves while caring for our nation’s seniors. Ensuring every nursing home has an adequate supply of PPE will help keep long term residents and staff safe and better prepare them for future health crises. Federal and state governments must put our most vulnerable citizens and health care heroes first.</div><div><br></div><div>Read more about AHCA and LeadingAge’s PPE proposal <a href="/Advocacy/Documents/Minimum-PPE.pdf" target="_blank">HERE</a>, and learn more about the Care For Our Seniors Act at <a href="/Advocacy/Pages/Care-For-Our-Seniors-Act.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org/solutions</a>.</div><div><br></div><div><strong>ABOUT AHCA/NCAL</strong></div><div>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 <a href="/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a>.<br></div>PPE, including masks, gowns and gloves, are an essential component in protecting long term care residents and staff from COVID-19.
As Nursing Homes Emerge From The Pandemic, Lawmakers Must Commit To Substantive Reform and Support For The Industryaspx4/30/2021 4:00:00 AM<p></p><div>The COVID-19 pandemic has brought systemic challenges impacting the long term care profession to light. With new COVID cases reaching record-lows thanks in large part to the vaccines, the industry is optimistic that we have turned a corner. As we look toward the future, long term care leaders and lawmakers must work together to apply the lessons learned and ensure that all seniors have access to quality long term care options.</div><div><br></div><div>America’s elderly population is growing. Substantive reform is needed within the industry as we prepare for the increased demand in long term care services. The American Health Care Association (AHCA), in partnership with LeadingAge, have proposed the <a href="/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/Nursing-Homes-Release-Reform-Agenda-To-Address-Systemic-Issues-Facing-Long-Term-Care-Sector,-Learn-From-On-Going-Crisis.aspx" target="_blank">Care For Our Seniors Act</a> – a reform package that will support better pandemic management and strengthen overall care in our nursing homes. The package consists of four policy areas&#58;</div><div><br></div><div><ul><li>Clinical improvements to enhance quality of care</li><li>Workforce improvements to strengthen and support our frontline caregivers</li><li>Oversight reforms to make systems more resident-driven</li><li>Structural modernizations focused on resident dignity and safety​<br></li></ul></div><div>The nursing home industry has called attention to these long-standing issues for years – issues that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. For example, workforce shortages plagued nursing homes long before COVID-19 hit the U.S., but the pandemic worsened these shortages and left available workers stretched thin. The unprecedented challenges and traumatic experience of the past year have taken a heavy toll on caregivers, leading to considerable burnout among staff. Industry leaders are concerned that the profession will see a mass exodus of workers. In fact, <a href="https&#58;//www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2021/04/28/nursing-homes-covid-pandemic-reform-staffing/" target="_blank">The Washington Pos​t</a> reports&#58;</div><div><br></div><div>“According to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll, roughly 3 in 10 health-care workers have weighed leaving their profession. More than half are burned out. And about 6 in 10 say stress from the pandemic has harmed their mental health.”</div><div><br></div><div>Meanwhile, a <a href="https&#58;//skillednursingnews.com/2021/04/single-rooms-could-have-prevented-31-of-deaths-for-long-term-care-residents-international-study-finds/" target="_blank">new study</a> shows that improving nursing home infrastructure will better protect residents. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, found that 31 percent of COVID deaths in nursing homes in Ontario, Canada would have been prevented if all residents had had single-occupancy rooms. The modernization proposal in the Care for Our Seniors Act calls for a shift to more private rooms, which will allow for greater privacy and dignity for residents, as well as promote enhanced infection prevention and control.</div><div><br></div><div>Implementing these reforms requires a commitment from federal and state lawmakers to properly fund nursing homes – particularly ensuring that Medicaid reimbursement rates cover the actual cost of care. With the majority of nursing homes already operating on razor-thin margins, the cost of making improvements will not be possible without financial assistance.</div><div><br></div><div>Long term care was forgotten at the beginning of the pandemic, but they cannot be forgotten now. Lawmakers have an opportunity to put America’s seniors and frontline caregivers first. The long term care industry is eager to work collaboratively with the Biden Administration, Congress and state governments to implement meaningful solutions that will protect our most vulnerable citizens, improve quality of care, and create meaningful jobs for our heroic caregivers</div><div><br></div><div><strong>ABOUT AHCA/NCAL</strong></div><div>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 <a href="/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a>​.<br></div>The COVID-19 pandemic has brought systemic challenges impacting the long term care profession to light.
Transforming Nursing Homes: Modernizing Physical Structuresaspx4/26/2021 4:00:00 AM<p>​​</p><div>The American Health Care Association (AHCA) and LeadingAge have proposed the <a href="/Advocacy/Pages/Care-For-Our-Seniors-Act.aspx" target="_blank">Care For Our Seniors Act</a>, a four-pronged, comprehensive reform proposal that will help strengthen nursing home care. Modernizing facilities for resident dignity and safety is one of the four pillars outlined in the package.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>The average nursing home is around 40 to 50 years old. Persistent financial challenges – due in large part to chronic Medicaid underfunding – prevent many nursing home providers from making the improvements needed to modernize their physical structures. But as nursing homes emphasize a more person-centered approach to care, traditional care models for long-stay residents and short-stay patients need to be updated and reformed.</div><div><br></div><div>Modernization includes shifting to more private rooms. They allow for greater privacy and dignity for residents, and promote enhanced infection prevention and control. This is especially important in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the virus was airborne and commonly spread through asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>There is a lack of data and research on nursing home room configurations and the number of buildings and rooms with more than two residents. The Care for Our Seniors Act proposes conducting a national study that would assess nursing home design to improve infection control, as well as modernize to meet market preferences. Areas of study should include financial factors, best practice architectural design for patients and residents, feasibility and funding mechanisms.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>As Congress considers the Biden Administration’s <a href="https&#58;//www.whitehouse.gov/american-jobs-plan/" target="_blank">American Jobs Plan</a> and efforts to rebuild our nation’s transportation, utility, and manufacturing systems, it is also time to invest our dated health care infrastructure. AHCA and LeadingAge support the <a href="https&#58;//www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/8540" target="_blank">Keeping Seniors Safe from COVID-19 Through Home Design Act</a>, which would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Department of Agriculture to work together on financing and tax credits for nursing home modernization. Another piece of legislation, the <a href="https&#58;//energycommerce.house.gov/newsroom/press-releases/ec-democrats-introduce-lift-america-act-that-invests-in-clean-energy" target="_blank">Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow's (LIFT) America Act</a>, includes $10 billion for upgrading not-for profit medical facilities to increase capacity, strengthen care, and help prevent future outbreaks. In addition, the <a href="https&#58;//www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/122?q=%7b%22search%22&#58;%5b%22s.122%22%5d%7d&amp;s=1&amp;r=1" target="_blank">Fresh Air Act</a> provides tax credits for modernizations, such as upgrading air filtration and purification. AHCA is calling on lawmakers to increase the funding for facility modernization included in these proposals and include all long term care providers, regardless of ownership status, so that every senior can benefit from a more modern and safer nursing home environment.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>America’s seniors deserve a robust, quality long term care system. Modernizing our nursing homes to increase resident privacy is a central component in enhancing quality of care. But with chronic underfunding and now an economic crisis caused by COVID, nursing homes cannot make these capital improvements on their own. Let’s work together to implement substantive reforms that will protect and improve the lives of our seniors in long term care.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>Read more about AHCA and LeadingAge’s modernization proposal <a href="/Advocacy/Documents/Private-Rooms.pdf" target="_blank">HERE</a>, and learn more about the Care For Our Seniors Act at <a href="/Advocacy/Pages/Care-For-Our-Seniors-Act.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org/solutions</a>.<br></div><div><br></div><div><strong>ABOUT AHCA/NCAL&#160;</strong></div><div>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 <a href="/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a>.<br></div>AHCA and LeadingAge have proposed the Care For Our Seniors Act, a four-pronged, comprehensive reform proposal that will help strengthen nursing home care.
Transforming Long Term Care: Strengthening and Supporting Our Workforceaspx4/19/2021 4:00:00 AM<p><br></p><div>This week is <a href="https&#58;//www.geron.org/programs-services/careers-in-aging-week" target="_blank">Careers in Aging Week</a>, and the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) is shining a light on the long term care workforce. Strengthening and supporting the long term care workforce is one of the four strategies laid out in the <a href="/Advocacy/Pages/Care-For-Our-Seniors-Act.aspx" target="_blank">Care For Our Seniors Act​</a>, a comprehensive policy proposal announced by AHCA and LeadingAge.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>Workforce recruitment and retention has been a persistent challenge for long term care providers for years. There is an ongoing shortage of trained caregivers for a variety of critical roles. Although nurses and nurse aides are among the fastest growing occupations, supply is not keeping up with demand.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>AHCA/NCAL has been calling attention to staffing shortages for years, including testifying before Congress twice in 2019. Now, the workforce crisis has worsened amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Illness or lack of childcare options forced many staff members to miss work, leaving those who were able to work stretched thin.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>The Care for Our Seniors Act offers a multi-tiered approach to attract, retain and develop the long term care workforce leveraging federal, state, and academic entities. Proposed solutions include&#58;&#160;</div><div><br></div><div><strong>Financial assistance&#58;&#160;</strong></div><div>•<span style="white-space&#58;pre;"> </span>Provide student loan forgiveness for licensed health care professionals who are new graduates and work in long term care.&#160;</div><div>•<span style="white-space&#58;pre;"> </span>Develop assistance programs for affordable housing, housing down payments, and childcare.&#160;</div><div dir="ltr" style="text-align&#58;left;">•<span style="white-space&#58;pre;"> </span>Provide career ladder scholarships that would encourage staff to work their way into the registered nurse (RN) or other positions in aging services.&#160;<br></div><div>•<span style="white-space&#58;pre;"> </span>Funding for universities who have shown graduation rates with direct correlation to long term care hires with retention of two years or more.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div><strong>Regulatory solutions&#58;&#160;</strong></div><div>•<span style="white-space&#58;pre;"> </span>Create a pathway (including training and testing) for temporary nurse aides allowed by the current Public Health Emergency to become certified nurse aides.&#160;</div><div>•<span style="white-space&#58;pre;"> </span>Ensure the Nurse Licensure Compact is available in every state to be able to &quot;share&quot; RNs across state borders.&#160;</div><div>•<span style="white-space&#58;pre;"> </span>Expedite the progression in licensed practical nurse to RN bridge programs to increase the number of RNs.&#160;</div><div>•<span style="white-space&#58;pre;"> </span>Pass common-sense immigration reform that increases opportunities for foreign-born individuals to work in the long term care profession.&#160;Expand the ability for international nurses to come to the United States.&#160;<br></div><div><br></div><div>With a rapidly growing aging population, now is the time for substantive reform. The federal government estimates nearly 27 million people will need some kind of long term care by 2050. Our workforce must be prepared to meet this demand. We are ready to work collaboratively with Members of Congress to implement meaningful solutions that will help recruit and retain more health care heroes to serve in long term care.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>Read more about the workforce proposals in the Care for Our Seniors Act <a href="/Advocacy/Documents/Workforce-Strategies.pdf" target="_blank">HERE​</a>.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div><strong>ABOUT AHCA/NCAL&#160;</strong></div><div>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 <a href="/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a>.<br></div>This week is Careers in Aging Week, and AHCA/NCAL is shining a light on the long term care workforce.
Long Term Care Providers Urge Members of the Public to Slow the Spread of Coronavirus and #GetVaccinatedaspx4/14/2021 4:00:00 AM<p></p><div>The number of COVID-19 cases across the country is <a href="https&#58;//www.cnn.com/2021/04/08/health/us-coronavirus-thursday/index.html" target="_blank">rising at an alarming rate</a>, and the long term care industry is concerned that it may cause a correlating spike of new cases in nursing homes and assisted living communities. Even though the vaccine was prioritized for long term care residents and staff and yielded a sharp decline in nursing home cases and deaths, the pandemic persists, and we are not yet out of the woods, industry officials warn.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>Increasing cases in the community can have a devastating impact on long term care residents and staff. <a href="/News-and-Communications/Fact-Sheets/FactSheets/Analysis-COVID-Outbreaks-in-Nursing-Homes.pdf" target="_blank">Independent research</a> from our nation’s top academic institutions and the federal government indicate that the rate of spread within a surrounding community is a primary factor in the likelihood of an outbreak in a nursing home.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>The latest <a href="/Data-and-Research/Pages/default.aspx#covid-dashboard" target="_blank">data</a> from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) indicates that as of March 30, 177 counties in the U.S. have a community positivity rate of higher than 10 percent, a 43 percent increase in three weeks. More than 1,100 nursing homes are in those 177 counties. This is nearly double the amount of nursing homes in red counties from the previous week, which was 620.&#160;<br></div><div><br></div><div><img src="/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/PublishingImages/Pages/Long-Term-Care-Providers-Urge-Members-of-the-Public-to-Slow-the-Spread-of-Coronavirus-and-GetVaccinated/County-Positivity-Classification.png" alt="County-Positivity-Classification.png" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></div><p>​</p><div>“This is not the time to let our guard down,” said <strong>Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).</strong> “We call on members of the public to respect our elders by doing their part&#58; wear a mask, avoid large groups of people, practice social distancing, and get vaccinated as soon as you are able. We understand that everyone is tired of this pandemic, but it is our most vulnerable who pay the ultimate price by our complacency. We must remain vigilant, and together, we can protect our nation’s seniors and end this nightmare.”&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>Local reports have already begun to <a href="https&#58;//www.mcknights.com/news/covid-19-variant-fuels-outbreak-among-nursing-home-residents-vaccinated-or-not/" target="_blank">trickle in</a> and industry officials are concerned more will soon arise. Specific causes for new cases and deaths in nursing homes and other long term care facilities can be determined by state public health officials, but some of the reasons may include&#58;&#160;</div><div><br></div><div><ul><li>The time it takes for vaccinated individuals to develop protective antibodies, which usually takes 10-14 days. Residents could be become infected with COVID during this window of time.&#160;</li><li>The vaccines do not always prevent infection from happening, but they are extremely effective at preventing symptomatic disease. Therefore, some residents may test positive during regular, surveillance testing, but never develop symptoms.&#160;</li><li>The vaccines are incredibly effective at preventing severe illness (90-95 percent), but they are still not 100 percent. Given that millions have been vaccinated and the ongoing spread of the virus, it is possible that vaccinated individuals may contract COVID.&#160;</li><li>Long term care residents were not included in the vaccine clinical trials, so we must continue to monitor their efficacy among this population. AHCA/NCAL <a href="/News-and-Communications/Fact-Sheets/Letters/CDC-Letter-Vaccines-Reopening.pdf" target="_blank">wrote</a> to the CDC in February urging that vaccine research on the long term care population be prioritized.&#160;</li><li>While there is promising data about the vaccines’ ability to prevent transmission—not just severe illness—of the virus, this is still being determined by scientists and experts.&#160;</li><li>The rise of new variants of the vaccine continue to remain a threat, especially if community spread remains rampant, more variants will continue to emerge.&#160;</li><li>According to CMS guidance for nursing homes, indoor visitation is allowed, no matter the vaccination status of residents or visitors.&#160;</li><li>​While a vast majority of residents were vaccinated during the on-site clinics that took place between December and March, not every resident was vaccinated and new, unvaccinated residents are being admitted on a regular basis.&#160;<br></li></ul></div><div>Industry officials are particularly <a href="/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/With-Johnson-%26-Johnson-Vaccine-Paused,-the-Long-Term-Care-Industry-Urges-Federal-Officials-to-Prioritize-Residents,-Staff-f.aspx" target="_blank">concerned</a> about the lack of steady, rapid access to additional vaccines, especially with federal officials pausing the use of the Johnson &amp; Johnson vaccine yesterday, which was primarily being allocated to long term care through partnering pharmacies. Nursing homes frequently accept new patients from the hospital, and assisted living communities welcome new residents from the community, and many of these individuals may not yet be vaccinated.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>“There is this notion among some that vaccines were administered in long term care, so we’re done, and that would be a perilous mistake,” said <strong>Dr. David Gifford, chief medical officer of AHCA/NCAL.</strong> “We need federal and state public health officials to continue to prioritize long term care for vaccine allocations and other support for the foreseeable future and until this virus is eradicated.”&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>The long term care industry also recognizes the addressing vaccine hesitancy is critical. With support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), AHCA/NCAL launched the <a href="https&#58;//getvaccinated.us/">#GetVaccinated</a> campaign to help educate residents, staff and families about the vaccines and help reach their nationwide goal of getting <a href="/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/Nursing-Homes-Set-Goal-To-Get-75-Percent-Of-Staff-Vaccinated-By-June-30.aspx" target="_blank">75 percent</a> of all staff vaccinated by June 30, 2021. Education is proving to be an effective approach, and vaccine uptake and confidence is increasing. A recent <a href="/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/New-Survey-Finds-94-Percent-Increase-In-Willingness-Of-Long-Term-Care-Staff-To-Take-COVID-19-Vaccine.aspx" target="_blank">survey</a> from OnShift shows that staff willingness to get the vaccine has increased by 94 percent since December.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>While the vaccines are the best hope we have to ending the pandemic as quickly as possible, we also need members of the public to help flatten the curve. Public health officials must also continue to keep long term care its top priority for resources and support, so we can protect our most vulnerable citizens and heroic caregivers.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div><strong>ABOUT AHCA/NCAL</strong>&#160;</div><div>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 <a href="/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a>.<br></div>The number of COVID-19 cases across the country is rising at an alarming rate, and the long term care industry is concerned that it may cause a correlating spike of new cases in nursing homes and AL communities.
With Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Paused, the Long Term Care Industry Urges Federal Officials to Prioritize Residents, Staff for Other Approved Vaccinesaspx4/13/2021 4:00:00 AM<p></p><div>The <a href="https&#58;//www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/04/13/johnson-and-johnson-vaccine-blood-clots/" target="_blank">news today</a> of federal officials calling for a pause on the use of the Johnson &amp; Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has left nursing homes and assisted living communities questioning how they will acquire COVID-19 vaccines for their residents and staff. Long term care industry officials are calling on the Biden Administration to promptly allocate Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to these settings in order to fill the gap caused by the Johnson &amp; Johnson pause.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>“Unfortunately, today’s development essentially halts vaccinations in long term care, as the federal government was primarily allocating the Johnson &amp; Johnson vaccine to nursing homes and assisted living communities,” said Dr. David Gifford, chief medical officer for the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL). “Without swift action to replace these vaccines, we could see tragic consequences. We appreciate federal and state officials ensuring our most vulnerable and their caregivers have steady and rapid access to vaccines.”&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>Long term care facilities are working with long term care pharmacies to facilitate vaccinations for new and existing residents and staff, but as attention shifts to vaccinating more of the general population, vaccines for long term care are not always readily available. Last month, AHCA/NCAL sent letters to White House Senior Advisor <a href="/News-and-Communications/Fact-Sheets/Letters/Joint-Letter-WhiteHouse-Vaccines.pdf" target="_blank">Andy Slavitt</a>, White House Senior Policy Advisor for COVID-19 Equity <a href="https&#58;//leadingage.org/sites/default/files/Cameron%20Webb%20Letter_3921.pdf" target="_blank">Dr. Cameron Webb</a> and the <a href="/News-and-Communications/Fact-Sheets/Letters/NGA-Letter-Vaccines-3.11.21.pdf" target="_blank">National Governors Association</a>, requesting that long term care residents and staff remain a priority for the vaccines as the next phase of distribution begins. The federal government had begun to allocate primarily Johnson &amp; Johnson vaccines to the long term care population, but not at the levels necessary to ensure all facilities and pharmacies had consistent and immediate access.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>“There is this notion among some that vaccines were administered in long term care, so we’re done, and that would be a perilous mistake,” said Dr. David Gifford. “Nursing homes and assisted living communities have a constant flow of new residents, whether coming from the hospital or the community, and many of them haven’t been vaccinated yet. Long term care facilities also have new staff members and existing staff who have since decided to get vaccinated. We need federal and state public health officials to continue to prioritize long term care for vaccine allocations and other support for the foreseeable future and until this virus is eradicated.”&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>Beyond new residents and staff members, the long term care industry is also working diligently to address vaccine hesitancy. AHCA/NCAL launched the <a href="https&#58;//getvaccinated.us/" target="_blank">#GetVaccinated</a> campaign to help residents, staff and families make an informed decision about getting the COVID vaccine and, with LeadingAge, has a nationwide goal of getting <a href="/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/Nursing-Homes-Set-Goal-To-Get-75-Percent-Of-Staff-Vaccinated-By-June-30.aspx" target="_blank">75 percent</a> of all nursing home staff vaccinated by June 30, 2021. With <a href="/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/New-Survey-Finds-94-Percent-Increase-In-Willingness-Of-Long-Term-Care-Staff-To-Take-COVID-19-Vaccine.aspx" target="_blank">increasing vaccine confidence among staff</a>, long term care providers remain confident that we can meet this goal as long as access to the vaccines remains viable.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>Public health officials must continue to prioritize long term care for vaccines, so we can protect our most vulnerable citizens and their heroic caregivers.&#160;<br><br></div><div><strong>ABOUT AHCA/NCAL&#160;</strong></div><div>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 <a href="/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a>.<br></div>The news today of federal officials calling for a pause on the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has left nursing homes and AL communities questioning how they will acquire COVID-19 vaccines for their residents and staff.
Now is the Time to Reimagine and Reinvest in America’s Nursing Homesaspx4/12/2021 4:00:00 AM<p></p><div>The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated systemic issues in America’s long term care system, such as workforce shortages, chronic underfunding and aging physical plants. More than five million seniors and individuals with disabilities each year rely on the round-the-clock care and enriching social environment in long term care facilities. They deserve the highest quality care, and long term care industry officials are calling for meaningful, bold reforms.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>The American Health Care Association (AHCA) and LeadingAge have proposed the <a href="/Advocacy/Pages/Care-For-Our-Seniors-Act.aspx" target="_blank">Care For Our Seniors Act</a> to address some of the long-standing issues in America’s nursing homes and improve the overall quality of care. There are four main principles&#58;&#160;</div><div><br></div><div><ul><li><strong>​Clinical&#58;</strong> Enhance the quality of care in nursing homes by developing robust standards for infection preventionists, requiring that each nursing home have a registered nurse on-staff, 24 hours per day, and requiring a minimum 30-day supply of personal protective equipment in all nursing homes.&#160;</li><li><strong>Workforce&#58;</strong> Strengthen and support our frontline caregivers by implementing a multi-phase tiered approach to attract, retain and develop more long term care professionals leveraging federal, state and academic institutions.&#160;</li><li><strong>Oversight&#58;</strong> Establish a more resident-driven system that is focused on improvement to ensure nursing homes are in compliance and providing high quality care. This would include implementing a process to help turn around or close facilities that are chronic poor performers and adding customer satisfaction to the government’s five-star rating system to help guide potential residents and family members.&#160;</li><li><strong>Structural&#58;</strong> Modernize nursing homes by conducting a national study on how to shift to more private rooms, which promote resident privacy, autonomy and dignity, as well as support infection control best practices.&#160;<br></li></ul></div><div>Lawmakers must support seniors no matter which setting they choose or is deemed most appropriate for their care needs. AHCA and its sister organization, the National Center for Assisted (NCAL), applauds the Biden Administration for taking steps to expand home- and community-based services (HCBS), such as in assisted living communities, in its <a href="https&#58;//www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/04/02/caregiving-elderly-white-house-infrastructure/" target="_blank">American Jobs Plan</a>. However, the plan does not provide support for nursing homes. It is critical that Congress and the Administration not only look at ways at expanding HCBS but support those settings that care for more clinically complex individuals.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>More than half of long term care residents are over the age 85 and suffer from multiple chronic diseases, including dementia. Residents depend on dedicated staff to help them with daily activities, monitor their clinical conditions, facilitate critical therapy, and offer life-affirming social activities. Not all individuals can receive this care at home, and what’s best for the individual is often what is most cost effective to government payers—as individuals who receive long term care in the appropriate setting are less likely to make frequent, expensive trips to the hospital.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>We can and must do both&#58; expand HCBS and reimagine America’s nursing homes. But we need a proper investment in our nation’s seniors and individuals with disabilities to do it. Many of the challenges nursing homes are facing is due to chronic underfunding of Medicaid. With the proper government support, nursing homes can invest in their workforce, clinical services, and infrastructure to continue to improve residents’ quality of life. The Care For Our Seniors Act includes immediate and long-term strategies to address Medicaid underfunding for nursing homes.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>We must not let something like the pandemic happen in long term care ever again, and we must prepare for a growing elderly population. AHCA/NCAL is eager to work collaboratively with the Biden Administration and Congress to implement significant reforms that will protect and improve the lives of our nation’s seniors.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>To learn more, please visit <a href="/Advocacy/Pages/Care-For-Our-Seniors-Act.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org/solutions</a>.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div><strong>ABOUT AHCA/NCAL&#160;</strong></div><div>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 <a href="/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a>.<br></div>The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated systemic issues in America’s long term care system, such as workforce shortages, chronic underfunding and aging physical plants.
Nursing Homes Face Imminent Closures Without Financial Support from Congressaspx4/8/2021 4:00:00 AM<p></p><div>Nursing homes across the country are in economic turmoil. Long-standing financial shortfalls, largely due to Medicaid underfunding, have been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the pandemic has worsened chronic workforce shortages and has contributed to a drastic decline in patient census. Many nursing homes were already operating at a loss, and without immediate financial assistance, closures are imminent.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>As Modern Healthcare <a href="https&#58;//www.modernhealthcare.com/post-acute-care/pandemic-prompts-rethinking-long-term-care-models" target="_blank">reports</a>, “The pandemic has thrown the long-term care industry into a tailspin.” Andy Edeburn, a principal at consulting organization Premier, said, “Not all nursing homes are going to come back,” and added, “I don’t know that the nursing home industry will ever go back to the way it was … It’s an industry in crisis for a number of reasons.”&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) <a href="https&#58;//d3dkdvqff0zqx.cloudfront.net/groups/ahca/attachments/protect%20access%20to%20long%20term%20care_ib.pdf" target="_blank">estimates</a> that within a two-year period (2020-2021), the long term care industry will lose $94 billion due to the increased costs needed to fight the pandemic and declining revenues. For example, in 2020 alone, nursing homes spent roughly $30 billion on personal protective equipment (PPE) and additional staffing.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>Nursing homes experienced fewer short-term stays amid the pandemic, such as patients coming from the hospital for physical therapy and rehabilitation. From 2020 to 2021, nursing home occupancy declined by 16.5 percent to 68.5 percent.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>More than <a href="https&#58;//d3dkdvqff0zqx.cloudfront.net/groups/ahca/attachments/protect%20access%20to%20long%20term%20care_ib.pdf" target="_blank">1,600 nursing homes</a> could close this year as a result of mounting financial challenges. Closures have a devastating impact on residents, their families, and staff. When a nursing home closes, vulnerable seniors are uprooted from their communities and forced to find new care options. The average age of a nursing home resident is 85 – most of whom have multiple underlying health conditions. These residents require a high level of specialized care that in-home care is often unable to provide.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>AHCA and LeadingAge have proposed the <a href="https&#58;//www.mcknights.com/news/clinical-news/nursing-home-advocates-urge-24-hour-nurses-ppe-mandates-in-sweeping-reform-agenda/" target="_blank">Care For Our Seniors Act</a> – a package of policy reforms that will help address many of the long-standing challenges in America’s nursing homes. However, implementation will not be possible without a significant investment from Congress and state governments – this includes immediate and long-term solutions to address chronic Medicaid underfunding. Sixty percent of nursing home residents rely on Medicaid for their daily care, and without a commitment from lawmakers to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates, most nursing homes will be unable to afford the substantive reforms required to continue improving quality of care.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>Nursing homes care for our nation’s most vulnerable population, and demand for long term care services will only increase in the years to come. Without support from federal and state lawmakers, financial challenges will continue. We must work together to improve nursing home care and ensure all seniors have access to high-quality long term care options.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div><strong>ABOUT AHCA/NCAL&#160;</strong></div><div>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 <a href="/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a>.<br></div>Nursing homes across the country are in economic turmoil.
AHCA Statement on Proposed Rule for Skilled Nursing Facilities’ Medicare Rates and Vaccination Reporting Requirementsaspx4/8/2021 4:00:00 AM<p></p><div><strong>Washington, D.C.</strong> — Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of the American Health Care Association (AHCA), made the following statement regarding the Skilled Nursing Facility Prospective Payment System (SNF PPS) FY 2022 proposed rule released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) today.&#160;&#160;</div><div>&#160;</div><div>“CMS proposes to increase Medicare rates to skilled nursing facilities 1.3 percent in the next fiscal year which would result in an increase of approximately $444 million in Medicare Part A payments to SNFs in FY 2022.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>“Nursing homes across the country continue to dedicate extensive resources to protect their residents and staff from COVID-19. This ongoing work makes government support and robust reimbursement rates more important than ever. With the skilled nursing profession grappling with an economic crisis and hundreds of facilities on the brink of closure due to the pandemic, it is critical that Medicare remain a reliable funding source and reflect the increasing costs providers are facing.&#160;</div><div>&#160;</div><div>“We also recognize the importance of quality measures associated with COVID-19 including a proposed measure of the COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage among health care personnel. We thank Acting Administrator Richter and the Administration for their support through the pandemic.”</div><div><br></div><div><strong>ABOUT AHCA/NCAL&#160;</strong></div><div>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 <a href="/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a>.​<br></div>Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of AHCA, made the following statement regarding the SNF PPS FY 2022 proposed rule released by CMS today.
Long Term Care Providers Continue To Encourage Staff And Residents To Get Vaccinatedaspx4/7/2021 4:00:00 AM<p></p><div>The COVID-19 vaccines provide hope that the pandemic will soon be behind us. As distribution continues, long term care providers remain focused on encouraging residents and staff to get vaccinated. The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), launched the <a href="https&#58;//getvaccinated.us/" target="_blank">#GetVaccinated</a> campaign to help educate residents, staff and families about the vaccines and help reach their nationwide goal of getting <a href="/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/Nursing-Homes-Set-Goal-To-Get-75-Percent-Of-Staff-Vaccinated-By-June-30.aspx" target="_blank">75 percent</a> of all nursing home staff vaccinated by June 30, 2021.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>Vaccine education is proving to be an effective approach to increasing uptake, particularly among staff. Following AHCA/NCAL’s #GetVaccinated campaign, a <a href="/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/New-Survey-Finds-94-Percent-Increase-In-Willingness-Of-Long-Term-Care-Staff-To-Take-COVID-19-Vaccine.aspx" target="_blank">survey</a> from OnShift shows that staff willingness to get the vaccine has increased by 94 percent since December.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>The <a href="https&#58;//www.nytimes.com/2021/03/28/health/nursing-home-covid-19-vaccine.html" target="_blank">New York Times</a> reported how one facility in Washington, D.C. successfully improved vaccine confidence and uptake. Less than half of staff at Forest Hills of D.C. chose to take the vaccine in January, but by March, nearly 80 percent had accepted. Tina Sandri, the facility’s chief executive, credited a multi-pronged approach tailor made to understanding and addressing each employee’s questions, concerns and motivations as the key to persuading more staff to get vaccinated.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>Data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) indicates that the vaccines are working. A recent <a href="/News-and-Communications/Fact-Sheets/FactSheets/Report-Nursing-Homes-Cases-Mar7-2021.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> by AHCA/NCAL shows a 96 percent decline in COVID cases and a 91 percent decline in COVID deaths in nursing homes since mid-December when the on-site vaccination clinics in long term care began. This vast improvement has made it possible for residents to begin safely reuniting with their loved ones in person and reengage in meaningful activities with other residents.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>It is critical that long term care facilities have ongoing and rapid access to the vaccines in order to accommodate new and existing residents and staff who want to get vaccinated. Last month, AHCA/NCAL sent letters to White House Senior Advisor <a href="/News-and-Communications/Fact-Sheets/Letters/Joint-Letter-WhiteHouse-Vaccines.pdf" target="_blank">Andy Slavitt</a>, White House Senior Policy Advisor for COVID-19 Equity <a href="https&#58;//leadingage.org/sites/default/files/Cameron%20Webb%20Letter_3921.pdf" target="_blank">Dr. Cameron Webb</a> and the <a href="/News-and-Communications/Fact-Sheets/Letters/NGA-Letter-Vaccines-3.11.21.pdf" target="_blank">National Governors Association</a>, requesting that long term care residents and staff remain a priority for the vaccines as the next phase of distribution begins. Fortunately, federal and many state officials have allocated and prioritized additional vaccines for long term care, but AHCA/NCAL will be monitoring this as attention shifts to vaccinating more of the general population.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div>While we have made considerable progress, we must remain vigilant. We must continue to emphasize the importance of getting vaccinated and ensure every individual has the resources to make an informed decision. We must also continue to keep long term care first, so we can protect our most vulnerable citizens and heroic caregivers.&#160;</div><div><br></div><div><strong>ABOUT AHCA/NCAL&#160;</strong><br></div><div>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 <a href="/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a>.<br></div>The COVID-19 vaccines provide hope that the pandemic will soon be behind us.