Announcements from federal health authorities on Friday found the senior living industry still on the outside looking in as nursing homes, hospitals and even dentists were identified as recipients of new COVID-19-related resources from the federal government.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that it will deploy quality improvement organizations across the country to give “immediate assistance” to nursing homes in COVID-19 hotspot areas identified by the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
CMS also said it will implement an enhanced survey process to meet specific concerns in hotspot areas and will coordinate federal, state and local efforts “to leverage all available resources to these facilities.”
“The purpose of these efforts is to target facilities with known infection control issues by providing resources and support that will help them improve quality and safety and protect vulnerable Americans,” CMS said in the announcement.
The news presented an opportunity for the senior living industry to highlight the fact that senior living still has not seen any federal aid to fight the coronavirus.
“While we understand and support the need to provide added resources and services to nursing homes in hotspots, we continue to be disappointed that assisted living and other senior living communities continue to be overlooked when it comes to federal support,” Argentum President and CEO James Balda said.
Senior living residents are as at-risk as nursing home residents, he pointed out, and operators are facing increased costs related to the need for additional staffing, expanded operations, personal protective equipment and test kits.
“And as states and regions continue their reopening plans, they face an uphill battle in continuing to work to protect their residents and staff from COVID-19,” Balda said. “We ask the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the administration and Congress to consider the critical needs of the 2 million seniors and 1 million employees who live and work in senior living communities across the country. Please don’t leave them behind.”
Another announcement from the federal government, however, has Argentum feeling “hopeful,” Balda said.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday that it is opening the Enhanced Provider Relief Fund Payment Portal to dentists who previously may not have been eligible to receive monies through the fund.
“This second phase of General Distribution will continue to expand to include other providers submitting applications for future relief funding opportunities or as directed by HHS,” the agency said.
“While the senior living industry is still awaiting financial support from the federal government, we remain hopeful that this action by HHS indicates COVID-19 relief for state-licensed healthcare providers is moving to the next level of consideration,” Balda said.
The HHS announcement also included news of an additional $3 billion for safety net hospitals and $1 billion more for rural and suburban hospitals.