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Health care trade groups ask for $10 billion in emergency nursing home funding

Health care trade groups ask for $10 billion in emergency nursing home funding
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Trade groups representing the health care and assisted living industries asked the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for $10 billion in emergency funds to combat the novel coronavirus in nursing homes.

In a Tuesday letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor, Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association and its subsidiary the National Center for Assisted Living, requested the funds from provider funding allocated by the CARES Act.

“[F]uture rounds of funding need to be focused where COVID-19 is being fought. Right now, the epicenter for COVID-19 is in our nursing homes and assisted living communities. Our ask to HHS is to create a specific fund for long term care, just as the agency has done for hospitals. We're asking for an immediate $10 billion fund for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs),” Parkinson wrote. “Once that is completed, we ask for consideration of an additional fund for assisted living communities.”

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Parkinson’s letter also outlined two additional steps he said the departments must take to address outbreaks in the facilities. Priority testing, Parkinson wrote, must be expanded to all nursing home staff and residents, even those without symptoms, to ensure no asymptomatic cases are acting as carriers.

The letter also calls on FEMA to expedite personal protective equipment shipments to nursing facilities, saying the supply kits delivered by FEMA have not included N-95 masks, nor have they provided supplies to assisted living communities.

“It is not too late to make an enormous difference in the outcome of the COVID-19 battle in America’s long term care facilities. The best public health policy is to focus where the battle is taking place, which is now most prevalent in nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country,” he wrote. “Without adequate funding, testing and supplies, long term care facilities will not be able to overcome this unprecedented health crisis and protect our residents and caregivers.

"We sincerely appreciate the recent steps taken by your agencies and the White House to make long term care facilities a top priority. These providers will continue to work with local, state and federal health officials to ensure all possible actions are taken to keep residents and caregivers safe.”

Nursing homes have been a major vector for coronavirus infection, with recent reports including 1,700 deaths in New York facilities and 54 deaths in a Massachusetts facility.