Argentum, ASHA Respond to Federal COVID-19 Plans

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Argentum and the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), both organizations serving seniors housing owners and operators, issued separate statements regarding federal actions around the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both organizations weighed in on a bi-partisan effort, led by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), to ensure that seniors housing receives “a meaningful level of support” from the Public Health and Social Service Emergency Fund (PHSSEF).

In all, 27 U.S. senators contacted the Department of Health and Human Services to encourage appropriate distribution levels from the $100 billion fund to seniors housing operators.

“ASHA and Argentum members reached out to senators and their staff to encourage their engagement and enlist their support of this letter,” said David Schless, ASHA’s president, in an email to ASHA members. “The first tranche of funding was allocated to Medicare providers at the level of $30 billion. The remaining $70 billion is expected to be delivered to Medicaid and other providers.”

“ASHA and Argentum continue to stress the critical work underway in senior living communities across the country to address COVID-19 and to protect the 1.9 million seniors under our care,” continued Schless. “Access to these funds are a necessary component to continuing this work.”

In a separate notice to Argentum members, James Balda, the organization’s president and CEO, weighed in on the White House’s three-phase “Opening Up America Again” plan. The proposal suggests opening up American businesses and interpersonal interactions in stages as the pandemic hopefully subsides.

In Phase 1 and 2 of the plan, visitors will still be prohibited in seniors housing communities. By Phase 3, visitors will be allowed, but the White House emphasizes that “those who interact with residents and patients must be diligent regarding hygiene.”

“While we appreciate the inclusion of recommendations for senior living communities in the White House’s newly released three-phase reopening plan, we also need to ensure proper attention is given to protecting our workers and residents both now and in phases to come,” said Balda. “It is critical that significant efforts are undertaken to ensure sufficient PPE [personal protective equipment] and rapid testing is widely available. It is the only way we will continue to successfully contain the virus among the most vulnerable population until a vaccine is available.”

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