As the House of Representatives passed a $484 billion bill with new COVID-19-related funding, a study published Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that COVID-19 has had a “disproportionate effect” on people who live and work in assisted living communities, nursing homes and intermediate care facilities.

The bill, passed by the Senate on Tuesday and expected to be signed by President Trump before the week ends, contains:

  • $75 billion for personal protective equipment and other resources for hospitals, health systems and healthcare and frontline workers.
  • $25 billion for COVID-19 testing.
  • $310 billion in additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses,
  • $50 billion for Small Business Administration emergency disaster loans and
  • $10 billion for SBA emergency disaster grants.

Meanwhile, the Kaiser study found that more than 10,000 people have died due to the virus in long-term care facilities across the 23 states that are publicly reporting death data. The number amounts to 27% of deaths due to COVID-19 in those states. Kaiser noted, however, that long-term care-related data collection and reporting varies across states. Not all states report deaths related to assisted living communities, for instance.

“Our data also finds that there have been over 50,000 reported cases, accounting for 11% of coronavirus cases in 29 states,” the author wrote. “In six states reporting data, deaths in long-term care facilities account for over 50% of all COVID-19 deaths.” Those states are Colorado, Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Utah.

The high rates of cases and deaths, according to the author, may be due to relatively high rates of testing within long-term care facilities and low rates of testing of the general public. And they do not tell the whole story, according to the study.

“Given that not all states are reporting data yet and the continual lag in testing, the counts of cases and deaths are an undercount of the true number of cases and deaths in long-term care facilities,” the study author said.

The authors of a separate analysis published Thursday by Kaiser noted that “although coronavirus outbreaks in LTC facilities have been widespread since the crisis began, less attention has been paid to LTC workers’ access to PPE, despite reports of shortages in facilities.” The PPE needs of hospital workers have received much attention, but if policymakers pay attention to the needs of assisted living, skilled nursing and home health workers, it “may help protect workers and patients alike,” the authors said.

Funds for long-term care hotspots?

Action on the stimulus bill in the House came a day after the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is distributing $10 billion to providers in COVID-19 hotspots, although these funds may be limited to hospitals, the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living said Wednesday in a blog post.

The association said that it is trying to verify that detail, and if long-term care is not a recipient of these funds, then the association will seek reimbursement for assisted living and skilled nursing COVID-19 hotspots in future funding.

COVID-19 direct medical costs could reach $163.3 billion to $654 billion in U.S.

And a study published Thursday in Health Affairs finds that the COVID-19 pandemic could result in direct medical costs of $163.3 billion to $654 billion in the United States, depending on how many people are infected.

The $163.3 billion amount is researchers’ estimate of costs if 20% of the population is infected, and the $654 billion amount is the estimate if 80% of the population is infected, the investigators wrote.

“The significant difference in costs by attack rate … shows the value of strategies that keep the attack as low as possible and, conversely, the potential cost of any ‘herd immunity’ strategies that allow people to get infected,” the authors said. “Our study also highlights the magnitude of resources needed to take care of COVID-19 cases.”

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