Covid relief file folder
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Argentum reiterated its message about $10 billion in aid being needed by assisted living operators to Congress on Thursday.

“Time and again, assisted living providers have been left behind in federal COVID-19 relief efforts, despite caring for the most at-risk population to this deadly virus and its variants,” association President and CEO James Balda wrote in a letter to congressional leaders.

With the remaining Provider Relief Fund dollars almost exhausted and a majority of assisted living providers operating at a loss, Balda once again called on Congress to target $10 billion in new or existing relief to the sector. 

Reps. Lori Trahan (D-MA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) earlier this year introduced the Argentum-led Safeguarding Elderly Needs for Infrastructure and Occupational Resources (SENIOR) Act, which would provide funding to assisted living operators that demonstrate significant and uncompensated COVID-19-related losses. It also would invest in existing federal workforce development programs to further develop a geriatric care workforce.

Additionally, Argentum supports the Employee Retention Tax Credit Reinstatement Act, which would provide companies with up to $26,000 in refundable credits per employee, helping providers retain frontline caregivers.

Thirty billion in pandemic losses, plus continued infection prevention efforts, wage increases and a nationwide worker shortage, require immediate attention from Congress, Balda said.

“While Washington considers another round of COVID relief, it is seniors living in assisted living, memory care and other senior living settings who have not seen the level of financial support for their providers as experienced in other industries,” he wrote. “During the first 20 months of the pandemic, the senior living industry lost more than 100,000 workers, resulting in 96% of communities facing staff shortages and 61% concerned that the staffing shortages might force them to close.”

The challenge, Balda said, not only is finding enough caregivers to meet current needs; it also is looking long term at the anticipated demand for care and services in the coming years. The CEO said he is concerned that if Congress does not act now, there will not be enough caregivers to meet the needs of the “tens of millions of seniors who will need help in the coming decades.”

ARP Rural and Phase 4 payment reconsideration

Meanwhile, the Provider Relief Fund Phase 4 and American Rescue Plan rural reconsideration process is now open, providing a way for operators to correct potential errors in their initial payment calculations.

The reconsideration provides additional time for applicants to participate in the program; to participate, providers need an email from the Health Resources and Services Administration indicating the outcome of the original application. 

Operators may not submit new applications for Phase 4 / ARP rural funding during the process, nor will they be able to revise or correct their original applications. Additionally, the HRSA will not change its payment determinations.

Providers who submit a reconsideration request also are not guaranteed approval of or an adjustment to their payment. The HRSA also maintains that any approval of or adjustments to payment determinations is subject to availability of funds. 

For more information on the reconsideration process and the required steps, providers may visit the HRSA payment reconsideration website.