Nursing Homes Need Additional Congressional Support To Survive The COVID-19 Pandemic

Long Term Care Facilities Need Support To Weather The Storm Through the Fall and Winter

​​

Long term care facilities across the country have faced the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. As lawmakers in Washington continue discussions around the next COVID-19 stimulus bill, the health and well-being of America’s seniors and caregivers deserve to be kept top of mind. With winter looming, it’s more important than ever that long term care facilities are equipped to deal with a potential surge. Lawmakers need to ensure every nursing home and assisted living community has the adequate testing, personal protective equipment (PPE) and staff support they need to protect themselves against the virus.

The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) has called on Congress to make seniors and their caregivers a priority in the next round of stimulus funding. AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson recently called on Congress to prioritize frontline health care workers and residents. He said, “Without replenishing funds for federal and state agencies, health care facilities, including nursing homes and assisted living communities, could find themselves less than completely prepared for the challenges of the upcoming cold and flu season, which could inevitably result in an uptick in new COVID cases.”

These facilities need the full support of Congress to ensure every resident and their caregivers have the means to fight off this virus. Their requests include:

  • A two-pronged approach to testing that provides financial support for increased and prioritized testing for providers and residents.
  •  An additional $100 billion to the Provider Relief Fund with a substantial portion dedicated to long term care.
  •  Vaccine priority to residents and staff.
Additionally, AHCA/NCAL sent a letter last week to the National Governors Association urging states to give long term care residents and staff priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. In the letter, AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson and NCAL Executive Director Scott Tittle outlined the need to make these individuals a priority: 

  • The average age of residents in long term care facilities is 85 and almost every one of them has an underlying health condition, and some have multiple chronic conditions. According to CDC data, the risk of mortality in this age group is 630 times higher than those 18-29 years old. 
  • ​ The virus is highly contagious and can spread through individuals who show know symptoms. Data shows that nearly 40 percent of individuals with COVID-19 are asymptomatic. Without access to regular testing resources, congregate settings like long term care facilities are prone to rapid spread.
  •  Hundreds of thousands of health care workers have been on the frontlines since the start of the pandemic. They are working day and night to protect our most vulnerable and are also at risk of contracting the virus.
  •  The combination of these factors, as well as a severe lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing at the outset, led to a disproportionate impact on long term care residents. Current data shows that while COVID-19 cases in all long term care facilities account for eight percent of total cases nationwide, they account for 41 percent of all COVID-19 related deaths.    
Congress has the opportunity to ensure long term care facilities have the necessary means to mitigate this crisis. Temporary funding allocated to these facilities have been a tremendous help but more is needed. The threat of a second surge, coupled with the fall and winter seasons, is too great for long term care facilities to face alone. They need Congressional support to prevail. 

ABOUT AHCA/NCAL
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (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. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit www.ahcancal.org or www.ncal.org​.​​​