AHCA/NCAL Supports CMS Guidance for States to Exercise Caution Before Reopening Nursing Homes Across the Country
Calls on states to support this phased approach and additional resources for all long term care facilities including nursing homes and assisted living communities
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year, released the following statement in response to new guidelines released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today for state and local officials to ensure the safe reopening of nursing homes across the country.
The following statement is attributable to Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL:
“We strongly support the new CMS guidance that issues caution in reopening America’s nursing homes. As CMS acknowledged, the pandemic has been a historic threat for long term care and some of the steps we have taken to protect residents have been difficult as they have been physically distanced from loved ones. Nursing homes and assisted living communities are eager for our residents to welcome their loved ones back into facilities, yet cautious about doing this safely. We are grateful to CMS for recognizing the importance of setting reasonable guidelines for re-opening our nation’s long term care facilities.
“We are particularly appreciative of the focus CMS puts on staff and resident testing. As we have said repeatedly, before we can open our doors again, the ability to test residents and staff in every long term care facility is essential given the impact of this deadly virus on our vulnerable residents. Today’s guidelines from CMS will help residents and staff in our long term care facilities get access to testing across the country and ensure other key checkpoints are reached before long term care facilities fully re-open to visitors.
“Moving forward, it is vital that all long term care facilities receive additional support and funding from state governments to conduct expanded testing. We encourage governors to use the $11 billion that has been allocated to states for expanding testing
in our nursing homes, assisted living communities and other long term care facilities. States can also assist with logistical support in implementing such a large endeavor, with help from the National Guard or the state’s health department.
“The only way for our health care sector to curb the outbreak of this deadly virus is for prioritized, expedited and continuous testing. We need to test all our residents and staff, identify current positive cases and take swift action to prevent further spread. We then need to test staff on a regular basis and all visitors to prevent the virus from coming into the buildings. For our more than two million current residents and another two million staff members, this requires a collective effort from the public and private sectors to ensure both the availability and collection of testing kits with rapid results.
“We appreciate CMS taking this important step with the guidelines issued today, and we look forward to working with them to ensure we safely re-open for the sake of our residents and heroic staff.”
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 nearly 5 million seniors and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our facilities each year. For more information, please visit www.ahcancal.org or www.ncal.org.