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The next COVID-19 relief package from the federal government must include $5 billion in funding for assisted living, independent living, memory care and continuing care retirement communities to help with personal protective equipment, staff and testing needs, Argentum said Friday.

“We are extremely disappointed that ongoing negotiations on the latest COVID-19 relief package continue to leave behind these vulnerable seniors and those who care for them,” Argentum President and CEO James Balda said in a statement. “The bill’s language does not come close to adequately addressing the urgent needs for those most at risk to COVID-19: residents of long-term care. These care providers cannot wait any longer — the situation is dire.”

To date, assisted living providers have been promised $3 billion, or 1.7%, of the total Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Provider Relief Fund, and have received even less, Argentum said. By comparison, according to the association, nursing homes, hospitals and other care providers have received $145 billion, or 83%, of the Provider Relief Fund; $27 billion, or 15%, of the total fund remains unallocated.

In a recent survey of Argentum members, more than half of senior living providers said they are operating at a loss, up 20% from October; 56% said they won’t be able to sustain operations for another year.

Assisted living operators have faced a financial impact of more than $15 billion due to the coronavirus, with 88% of providers experiencing increased costs due to overtime, 78% realizing increased costs due to PPE, 71% having increased costs associated with ‘hero pay,’ 61% with increased costs related to new staff, and 45% seeing increased costs related to cleaning.

Argentum said its figures come from internal member surveys by Argentum and the National Center for Assisted Living.

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