- Nursing homes and assisted living communities ask for funding for testing, PPE supplies and workforce, and priority for vaccine distribution.
- Nursing homes received only 4.3% of $175 billion Provider Relief Fund from CARES Act; zero funding for assisted living communities
- By nearly a five-to-one margin (71%), women voters ages 34 to 65 say long term care facilities need more support from the government to save lives and take care of loved ones.
WASHINGTON – 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% 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% felt that the government did not make long term care facilities a top priority. By nearly a five-to-one margin, these voters (71%) 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%) nursing homes and assisted living communities said obtaining test results back from the lab companies is taking two days or longer (63% – two to four days, 24% – five days or more) according to a recent survey. Nearly 12% 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 two-week 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.
A full list of the long term care industry’s request for Congress in the next stimulus package can be found here.
For more information, please visit www.ahcancal.org/coronavirus.