With questions about whether any further COVID-19 relief legislation will be passed this year, Argentum said Tuesday that it is focusing on a federal workplace safety rule, financial relief and workforce development for assisted living providers.
In June 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced an emergency temporary standard meant to protect healthcare sector workers, including assisted living communities. The agency announced in December its plan to withdraw the healthcare standard, with the exception of the log and reporting provisions.
In March, OSHA announced a proposed federal COVID-19 healthcare rule the agency said would protect assisted living and other healthcare workers from exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. Senior living and care advocates called the proposed rule “overly prescriptive” and called for broader requirements and flexibility to respond to changing circumstances.
Argentum Director of Government Relations Dan Samson said Tuesday during an Argentum Advocates membership call that of the 144 total comments submitted on the proposed final rule since OSHA reopened the comment period, more than 100 of those comments came form assisted living advocates.
Samson said the message to Congress continues to be that “assisted living is home and not an institution.”
COVID relief legislation, Samson said, remains at a standstill after several fits and starts. With that in mind, Argentum is continuing its push to have providers included in proposed relief packages for other industries.
“We need to be in the room and have a seat at the table if we don’t want to be on the menu,” Samson said, borrowing a line from the Broadway musical “Hamilton.” “Congress is hearing about every other issue under the sun. We can’t be left out of the discussion,” he added.
The last major COVID-19 relief package was passed in March 2021, when the Democrats passed a $1.9 trillion relief bill.
A $10 billion relief package in the Senate for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments remains stalled as sparring continues over how to handle a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public health program regarding denying asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border.
A House-passed $55 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act of 2021 and a $48 billion relief bill targeting restaurants and small businesses have failed to move forward.
“We remain dismayed that both continue to leave assisted living out as eligible for funds,” Samson said. “There are still questions about whether any COVID legislation will be passed this year.”
Samson added that Argentum is working to push its two biggest priorities — workforce development and financial relief — into any packages that do move forward.
In other Argentum news:
- The Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration reported that almost $14 billion (94%) of the Phase 4 Provider Relief Fund disbursements have been delivered, leaving approximately $3 billion yet to be disbursed to providers. HRSA had indicated that it intends to have all applications reviewed by May 31.
- Argentum joined the American Seniors Housing Association in lending its support to the Expanding Veterans’ Options for Long Term Care Act, a proposed pilot program to help veterans access assisted living.