COVID-19 Testing, Support for Nursing Home Residents & Staff Could Cost Billions
Professional Association Requests $10 Billion in Additional Funding and Support for Long Term Care Facilities, including Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Communities, in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic.
FLASH UPDATE: HHS has announced $4.9 billion in funding to help skilled nursing facilities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. More on this news may be found at the end of this article via a press release from AHCA/NCAL.
WASHINGTON D.C. – With predictions of a June peak for the COVID-19 pandemic fast approaching, health care professionals are warning that the estimated cost to test every nursing home resident and staff just once would run $440 million nationwide.
This does not include the cost for COVID-19 testing of residents and staff at assisted living and other long term care facilities, nor does it cover additional staffing and mandated monthly tests at all elder care facilities. Those costs will run into the billions of dollars according to figures released today by the American Health Care Association and National Center of Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL.)
“For months now, we have been advocating for expanded and priority testing in nursing homes to protect our residents and caregivers, but this is a significant undertaking and cost for nursing homes to shoulder on their own. That’s why we have asked HHS to grant our request for a $10 billion emergency relief to help fund expedited testing and the additional staffing needed to respond to this unprecedented health crisis,” said Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of AHCA/NCAL.
The AHCA/NCAL represents more than 14,000 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities.
The association’s request was made via a 4-page letter emailed on May 5, 2020 to Secretary Alex Azar of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and Administrator Peter T. Gaynor of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA.)
AHCA/NCAL maintains that the cost of ongoing COVID testing of nursing home residents and staff is unsustainable without additional funding and support from federal and state governments. They note that the CDC’s recent recommendation to test all nursing home staff weekly would cost more than $1 billion every month.
The association says nearly 3 million COVID-19 testing kits would be needed to test every nursing home resident and staff in the U.S.
Parkinson said in his letter to Azar and Gaynor that the association, “…appreciate(s) the actions taken… by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to respond to the deadly outbreak of COVID-19 in long term care facilities, including nursing homes and assisted living communities, across the country.”
But Parkinson stresses, “However, given the gravity of the situation we are facing with this deadly virus and its impact on our vulnerable community, which cannot be overstated, long term care facilities require additional support and funding from state and federal governments to reduce the spread of this deadly virus.”
Parkinson goes on to write, “What we need now is to rally around nursing homes and assisted living communities the same way the public health sector has around hospitals.
“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.
“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,” said Parkinson.
As of press time, neither HHS or FEMA has responded to Parkinson’s May 5 letter.
(Linked below is a state-by-state breakdown for COVID-19 testing for nursing homes, along with the May 5, 2020 letter from Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of AHCA/NCAL to Secretary Alex Azar of HHS and Administrator Peter T. Gaynor of FEMA.)
MAY 22, 2020 Update:
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and long term care facilities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year, released the following statement after HHS announced $4.9 billion in funding to help skilled nursing facilities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following statement is attributable to Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL.
“We appreciate HHS sending this much-needed funding to skilled nursing facilities. Long term care providers are privileged to care for our country’s Greatest Generation. The Administration has given us the ability to care of them with the resources that they deserve.
“We are working around the clock to protect the people who are most vulnerable to COVID-19. That work makes this funding more important than ever. These resources are an important step toward ensuring residents in long term care facilities receive the vital support needed during this unprecedented public health crisis.
“Given the gravity of the situation we are facing with this deadly virus and its impact on our vulnerable residents, long term care facilities require additional support and funding from state and federal governments to reduce its spread. Notably, assisted living communities have yet to receive any direct aid, despite also serving vulnerable seniors. While building on support received from HHS, we are asking for additional consideration for all long term care facilities, whether it be in regard to additional testing, personal protective equipment, or funding.
“Long term care facilities appreciate the Administration’s support in prioritizing long term care residents. We need everyone around the country to rally around nursing homes and assisted living communities the same way they have around hospitals. We will continue to work with local, state and federal health officials to take every possible step to keep our nation’s long term care residents and staff safe.”
(Lede photo/image from Pixabay – No attribution required.)
Anthony C. Hayes is an actor, author, raconteur, rapscallion and bon vivant. A one-time newsboy for the Evening Sun and professional presence at the Washington Herald, Tony’s poetry, photography, humor, and prose have also been featured in Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore!, Destination Maryland, Magic Octopus Magazine, Los Angeles Post-Examiner, Voice of Baltimore, SmartCEO, Alvarez Fiction, and Tales of Blood and Roses. If you notice that his work has been purloined, please let him know. As the Good Book says, “Thou shalt not steal.”