Assisted living and skilled nursing providers need $100 billion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act Provider Relief Fund to cover the “enormous costs associated with protecting vulnerable residents and staff from the virus, including constant testing, personal protective equipment (PPE) and staffing,” the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living said Tuesday.
The request puts a dollar amount to the “substantial and immediate financial relief” AHCA / NCAL and three other industry associations — LeadingAge, Argentum and the American Seniors Housing Association — asked of the administration and Congress in letters last week as the federal government considers additional relief legislation related to the pandemic.
Assisted living communities have not received any direct federal aid to date, AHCA / NCAL said Tuesday, noting that nursing homes have received approximately 4.3% of the $175 billion funding allocated from the Provider Relief Fund for healthcare providers.
“With the recent major spikes of COVID cases in many states across the country, we are very concerned this trend will lead to a dramatic increase in cases in nursing homes and assisted living communities,” AHCA / NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson said. “Without adequate funding and resources, the U.S. will end up repeating the same mistakes from several months ago. We need Congress to prioritize nursing homes and assisted living communities in this upcoming legislation.”
The $100 billion request follows one made Monday for a $5 billion fund to which assisted living communities, skilled nursing facilities and labs can apply to cover the cost of any testing ordered by a government entity. Funding for testing should be available until an effective vaccine is fully deployed, AHCA / NCAL said.
The organizations also have called on Congress to direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure that assisted living and nursing home residents and staff members are the first and highest priority for vaccine distribution, when a vaccine becomes available, “since they are the most vulnerable and at risk.” AHCA / NCAL also has requested limited immunity from liability for COVID-related activities.
‘Wartime leadership’ needed
Also on Tuesday, LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said “the need for wartime leadership is growing by the hour” and called for “a coordinated national plan of attack” from the federal government.
“Since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the United States six months ago, federal leaders have too often denied, diminished and dismissed the escalating tragedy of the pandemic,” she said.