Nurs­ing Homes re­quest fund­ing from Congress in next COVID bill

The Dundalk Eagle - - NEWS -

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, called on Congress today to en­sure ded­i­cated fund­ing and pri­or­ity at­ten­tion is given to long term care res­i­dents and care­givers.

The long term care in­dus­try is re­quest­ing an ad­di­tional $100 bil­lion for the U.S. De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices (HHS) Provider Re­lief Fund, which is ac­ces­si­ble for all health care providers im­pacted by COVID-19, and that a size­able por­tion of the fund be ded­i­cated to help­ing nurs­ing homes and as­sisted liv­ing com­mu­ni­ties cover the enor­mous costs as­so­ci­ated with pro­tect­ing vul­ner­a­ble res­i­dents and staff from the virus, in­clud­ing con­stant test­ing, per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment (PPE) and staffing.

Cur­rently, nurs­ing homes have only re­ceived ap­prox­i­mately 4.3 per­cent of the $175 bil­lion fund­ing al­lo­cated from the CARES Act Provider Re­lief Fund for health­care providers. Mean­while, as­sisted liv­ing com­mu­ni­ties have yet to re­ceive any di­rect fed­eral aid.

“With the re­cent major spikes of COVID cases in many states across the coun­try, we are very con­cerned this trend will lead to a dra­matic in­crease in cases in nurs­ing homes and as­sisted liv­ing com­mu­ni­ties,” stated Mark Parkin­son, Pres­i­dent and CEO of the Amer­i­can Health Care As­so­ci­a­tion and Na­tional Cen­ter for As­sisted Liv­ing.

“With­out ad­e­quate fund­ing and re­sources, the U.S. will end up re­peat­ing the same mis­takes from sev­eral months ago. We need Congress to pri­or­i­tize nurs­ing homes and as­sisted liv­ing com­mu­ni­ties in this up­com­ing leg­is­la­tion.”

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent na­tional sur­vey of women vot­ers ages 35 to 64 un­der­taken by AHCA/NCAL, a key vot­ing block in the up­com­ing Novem­ber elec­tion, 62 per­cent felt that the govern­ment did not make long term care fa­cil­i­ties a top pri­or­ity.

By nearly a five-to-one mar­gin, these vot­ers (71 per­cent) say that long term care fa­cil­i­ties need more sup­port from the govern­ment so they can save lives and take care of our loved ones.

Parkin­son said PPE sup­ply short­ages and a lack of ac­cess to reli­able, rapid test­ing is still a major is­sue for many nurs­ing homes. Nearly nine in 10 (87 per­cent) nurs­ing homes and as­sisted liv­ing com­mu­ni­ties said ob­tain­ing test re­sults back from the lab com­pa­nies is tak­ing two days or longer (63 per­cent – two to four days, 24 per­cent five days or more) ac­cord­ing to a re­cent sur­vey.

Nearly 12 per­cent of nurs­ing homes re­port to the Cen­ters for Disease Con­trol

and Preven­tion (CDC) that they have less than a one-week sup­ply of N-95 masks, and more than half of as­sisted liv­ing com­mu­ni­ties have less than a twoweek sup­ply of N-95 masks and gowns. N-95 masks were not in­cluded in the last FEMA ship­ments to nurs­ing homes and re­main dif­fi­cult to ac­quire.

Re­cent in­de­pen­dent re­search by Harvard Med­i­cal School, Brown Univer­sity’s School of Pub­lic Health and Univer­sity of Chicago showed the level of COVID cases in the sur­round­ing com­mu­nity was the top fac­tor in out­breaks in nurs­ing homes.

AHCA/NCAL re­cently sent a let­ter last week to the Na­tional Gov­er­nors As­so­ci­a­tion (NGA) warn­ing states of im­mi­nent out­breaks at nurs­ing homes and as­sisted liv­ing fa­cil­i­ties given the major spikes in new cases in sev­eral states across the U.S., com­bined with se­ri­ous PPE short­ages and sig­nif­i­cant de­lays in get­ting test­ing re­sults for long term care res­i­dents and care­givers.

“Given the fact we are sev­eral months into the re­sponse of this pan­demic and the lack of PPE sup­plies is still an is­sue is very con­cern­ing. We re­quest gov­er­nors and state pub­lic health agen­cies to help se­cure and di­rect more PPE sup­plies to nurs­ing homes and as­sisted liv­ing com­mu­ni­ties,” Parkin­son wrote in the let­ter.

As part of their fund­ing re­quest to Congress, the long term care in­dus­try is re­quest­ing a $5 bil­lion fund to which labs and nurs­ing homes or as­sisted liv­ing com­mu­ni­ties can ap­ply to cover the costs of any test­ing or­dered by a gov­ern­men­tal en­tity.

At present, it is not clear who is cov­er­ing the cost of sur­veil­lance test­ing and how much needs to be done, es­pe­cially for staff. AHCA/NCAL said fund­ing for test­ing should be avail­able un­til an ef­fec­tive vac­cine is fully de­ployed.

AHCA/NCAL also re­quested Congress to di­rect the CDC to en­sure that nurs­ing home and as­sisted liv­ing res­i­dents and staff are the first and high­est pri­or­ity for vac­cine dis­tri­bu­tion since they are the most vul­ner­a­ble and at risk. 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.

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