With the prospect of additional COVID-19 relief legislation at a standstill, Argentum is turning its attention to the appropriations process and ensuring the sector’s voice is heard.
During a Wednesday Argentum Advocates membership call, Director of Government Relations Dan Samson said that the association is focusing on ensuring assisted living’s inclusion in three main priorities — doubling the Department of Labor’s Closing the Skills Gap grant program to $200 million; addressing the senior care workforce crisis through education, training and grant programs; and making sure that assisted living is included in the definition of “home” in home- and community-based services.
“We want to make sure we’re getting assisted living considered in all of these priorities,” Samson said. “We need to keep up the pressure.”
Samson stressed that senior living advocates can use the congressional recess to “cut through the noise” and educate lawmakers on senior living’s essential role. He said providers also should stress that the industry continues to have financial relief needs more than two years after COVID-19 first struck the landscape.
Provider Relief Fund
Argentum met with representatives of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration last week about outstanding Phase 4 Provider Relief Fund payments. After initially indicating that the application review process would be completed by the end of January, and then pushing it to May, HRSA revealed that 6% of applications are outstanding, Samson said. The next round of payments likely will occur in early July.
HRSA also announced a limited opportunity for certain providers to have their PRF reporting Phase 1 payments reissued. Providers who missed the Period 1 reporting deadline and returned those funds as a consequence have an opportunity to submit a request to provide a late report and have those payments reissued. Those submission requests can begin July 18. Samson said HRSA anticipates reissuing those payments in October.
Samson touched on several legislative efforts that have Argentum support:
- The Long Term Care Affordability Act, which allows retirement account distributions to pay for long-term care insurance and avoids early withdrawal fees.
- The Expanding Veterans Options for Long Term Care Act, which creates a pilot program to help veterans access assisted living.
- The National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, which provides statutory authority for the DOL’s Office of Apprenticeship to support the development of apprenticeship models. Argentum is the fiscal agent for the $6 million Healthcare Apprenticeship Expansion Program grant.