Operators facing “significant hardships” soon may get some relief, thanks to expanded Phase 3 payments. In all, another $4.5 billion has been added to the program. Assisted living operators are expected to receive $140 million of that total.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday it was increasing its Phase 3 funding from the Provider Relief Fund to $24.5 billion. The money will go to more than 70,000 assisted living communities and other providers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. The funding is expected “to satisfy close to 90% of each applicant’s reported lost revenues and net changes in expenses due to the coronavirus pandemic in the first half of 2020.”

“This is tremendously impactful and welcomed news for the assisted living industry — with this funding and additional Provider Relief funding anticipated from the next relief package, providers all across the industry will rest a little easier today,” Argentum President and CEO James Balda said. “The revenue lost and expenses shouldered by these communities have been significant, and this funding will assist in recouping a major portion of those losses so they can continue to care for their residents and support their dedicated workforce.”

David Schless, president of the American Seniors Housing Association, said the “full-court press advocacy efforts” in pursuit of funding is finally showing positive results.

“These funds could not have come at a better time, as the virus continues to surge and our operators must redouble their efforts to protect their residents and staff,” Schless said. “The vaccine making its way to our communities in the next few months is encouraging, but the industry’s financial needs will continue to grow.”

Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, said “healthcare heroes” are doing everything they can to prevent the spread of the virus, but it is putting a “serious strain” on the workforce, supplies and testing capacity.

“Federal aid is critical during this time when providers are dealing with record cases and deaths due to high community spread, and, therefore, dedicating extensive resources to fight this virus,” Parkinson said. “Since it will likely take months to vaccinate our population, these payments give our providers a fighting chance to battle this horrible virus and keep our doors open.”

LeadingAge called the announcement “an important acknowledgement of the financial losses” mounting for assisted living and other providers across the care continuum.

Payments began Wednesday and will continue through January.

HHS indicated that as it began analyzing Phase 3 funding applications, it realized the submissions for lost revenues and net changes in expenses would exceed the original $20 billion budgeted. This funding will cover up to 88% of reported losses. 

Balda said Phase 2 payments to assisted living providers remain outstanding and are “desperately” needed for providers to continue their operations.

More than 35,000 applicants will not receive an additional payment because they either experienced no change in revenues or operating expenses due to COVID-19, or because they already received funds that equal or exceed reimbursement of 88% of those reported losses.