Dual computer screens with data.

Several associations representing assisted living providers hope a new data collection portal will bring members and nonmembers one step closer to receiving federal relief for their COVID-19-related costs.

As the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers a possible distribution of CARES Act Provider Relief Funds, the American Seniors Housing Association, Argentum, LeadingAge and the National Center for Assisted Living are “strongly” encouraging licensed, registered or certified assisted living operators to submit data to a private, secure HHS Provider Fund portal they have established to collect data requested by HHS.

All private-pay assisted living and memory care providers that are stand-alone communities or part of continuing care retirement / life plan communities can submit data, which could help the government distribute aid. Providers do not need to be a member of any of the associations to participate in the data collection effort.

The submission deadline is 5 p.m. ET on Aug. 3.

“NCAL continues to advocate that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) distribute a portion of CARES Act Provider Relief Funds to private-pay assisted living providers due to the heavy toll of COVID-19,” NCAL said in a statement. “Providers who participate in this effort may help ease a potential distribution of or application for funds.”

No guarantee exists that a distribution will occur or that a provider will receive or be eligible for funds, the associations noted. They also said they are not aware of an allocation methodology.

Outside of some assisted living providers who serve Medicaid beneficiaries, senior living operators have received “no relief whatsoever” from the federal government for their pandemic-related expenses, provider groups have said. Some officials have noted the difficulty in determining an appropriate allocation formula, given that assisted living operators are regulated by the states. Nursing homes, by comparison, which have received funding, are regulated at the federal level, so the U.S. government has easier access to data it might use to determine aid.

The federal government would have easier access to COVID-19-related data for assisted living if new legislation introduced earlier this month becomes law. Three members of Congress said they introduced the Assisted Living Facility Coronavirus Reporting Act to address issues related to COVID-19 infections, hospitalization and fatality rates, sick leave policies for employees, testing and personal protective equipment in senior living facilities. 

The bill was introduced following the solicitation of information from the CEOs of 11 of some of the country’s largest senior living companies in late April about the extent of the virus in their communities and their prevention and mitigation efforts.

Associations representing assisted living operators said the report on which the bill is based “falls short” by comparing COVID-19 cases in assisted living to those in the general population. They also called the report “misleading” in suggesting that providers are deficient in reporting their COVID-related incidents just because there is no federal requirement to do so.