WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) has warned Congress that if the federal government doesn’t pass another COVID-19 funding package, public health agencies and healthcare providers could find themselves less than completely prepared heading into the cold and flu season, as well as underfunded to handle another major spike in COVID-19 cases.
The Washington, D.C.-based organization represents more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country that provide care to approximately 5 million people each year.
About 70 percent of the $175 billion Provider Relief Fund provided by the CARES Act is already distributed, and remaining funds are likely to be allocated by early October. Healthcare providers, including long-term care facilities, will need additional funds to continue their response to the pandemic heading into the cold and flu season, which provides new challenges, the organization stated in a press release on Monday.
Mark Parkinson, president and CEO for AHCA/NCAL, says that Congress needs to end the partisan logjam and prioritize frontline healthcare workers and residents, particularly vulnerable elderly populations.
“With the cold and flu season adding a real complication to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response, the need for extra testing, personal protective equipment and staffing will need to be met in order to keep caregivers and residents safe,” says Parkinson.
Parkinson is urging Congress to provide an additional $100 billion for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Provider Relief Fund, which is accessible for all healthcare providers impacted by COVID-19. A sizeable portion of the fund should be dedicated to helping nursing homes and assisted living communities acquire resources associated with protecting vulnerable residents and staff from the virus.
“Without adequate funding and resources, the U.S. will repeat the same mistakes made during the initial outbreak last spring and the major spike over the summer,” points out Parkinson. “We need Congress to prioritize our vulnerable seniors and their caregivers in nursing homes and assisted living communities by passing another COVID-19 funding package before they leave town for the elections.”