COVID-19 Updates

Before LTC Facilities Begin To Reopen, They Must Have Additional Support

Provider Magazine

(5/6, Connole, 151K) reports that “as states weigh how to reopen their economies after locking down to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the long term care profession said skilled nursing and assisted living providers must have additional support in the way of increased funding, supplies of vital personal protective equipment (PPE), and testing of staff, visitors, and residents before facilities can loosen restrictions.” AMDA -The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, “said the decision to reopen or to relax social distancing efforts within PALTC communities must be made with great caution and on an individual basis, regardless of the status of the surrounding community.” AHCA/NCAL president and CEO Mark Parkinson echoed those sentiments, saying, “We understand and appreciate the need to begin reopening businesses and getting our country back to work. We appreciate the administration recognizing the impact of reopening plans for our nation’s seniors. … However, given the gravity of the situation we are facing with this deadly virus and its impact on our vulnerable residents, prior to reopening, it is essential that long term care facilities have additional support and funding from state and federal governments to reduce the spread of this deadly virus.”

AHCA/NCAL Warns Of PPE Scams

Provider Magazine

(5/6, Connole, 151K) reports, “New information from the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) warns long term care providers to be on high alert for possible scams involving personal protective equipment (PPE) at a time of shortages of such supplies as masks and gowns during the current COVID-19 pandemic.” According to the association, “Shortages of PPE such as N95 respirators persist. … However, there is no shortage of nonmedical suppliers and distributors that claim to have N95 and KN95 masks and other PPE for sale.” The sales calls may “come from third-party representatives claiming to have ready access to PPE, but AHCA/NCAL said providers should ‘be cautious and ask yourself, ‘Why does this nonmedical distributor have access to PPE when the major medical distributors and suppliers that I have used in the past do not?’’”


HHS Urged By 87 Congress Members, AHCA/NCAL To Prioritize Long-Term Care Needs During COVID-19 Pandemic

McKnight’s Senior Living

(5/6, Bowers) reports, “COVID-19 testing needs to be prioritized and expanded to include all assisted living and nursing homes residents and caregivers, personal protective equipment shipments should be expedited to assisted living operators in addition to nursing homes, and an emergency relief fund in excess of $10 billion should be created for long-term care providers, the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living President told federal officials Tuesday.” Additionally, “a new letter from 87 members of Congress to Azar and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma makes a similar request.” Parkinson also “again proposed that a $10 billion emergency relief fund be set up from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to pay for staffing, testing and PPE needed to fight COVID-19.”


(5/6, Jaffe, 3.12M) reports the American Health Care Association letter to FEMA and HHS Secretary Alex Azar asked “for the federal government to designate relief funding from the CARES Act for nursing homes the way it has for hospitals.” The letter from the Congress members “notes that nursing homes are now required to report their numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but that they can’t meaningfully do this unless they can test everyone in the facility.”

Inside Health Policy

(5/5, Stein, Subscription Publication) also reports on AHCA/NCAL’s $10 billion request.

Trump Administration Takes “First Step” Toward Medicaid Provider Grants


(5/5, Cohrs, Subscription Publication, 214K) reports the Trump Administration is “collecting information that could be used to distribute COVID-19 provider relief grant funds to providers that serve Medicaid enrollees.” HHS has $28 billion “remaining in Congress’ initial $100 billion in provider grants set aside in the CARES Act,” and the agency said that will go to “skilled nursing facilities, dentists, and providers that solely take Medicaid,” as well as reimbursing providers for COVID-19 care for the uninsured. AHCA/NCAL “said they understand the Trump administration is working on a funding tranche for Medicaid-only providers, including home and community-based services and called for HHS to release the funds quickly.” Moreover, on Tuesday, the organization “asked HHS…to set aside $10 billion in future grant funds for testing, personal protective equipment, and additional staffing for long-term care facilities.”

Questions Remain About First Rounds Of Medicare Funding

Skilled Nursing News

(5/5, Spanko) reports that “when Congress set aside $175 billion in aid for health care facilities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal agencies in charge of doling out those dollars elected to prioritize speed over structure, sending cash influxes directly to providers with little advance warning or fanfare.” This “strategy to distributing health care relief has predictably raised many questions after the first shots, some of which operators and advocates still can’t answer weeks after the first rounds of Medicare funding began to hit providers’ bank accounts.” For instance, American Health Care Association president and CEO Mark Parkinson “raised the specter of potential clawbacks in the second Medicare relief round during a phone press conference last week.”

Parkinson Addresses CMS Inspection System


Connecticut Post

(5/5, 347K) reports on inspections in long-term care facilities across the country. According to the Post, “the leader of the nation’s largest organization representing nursing home argues the inspection system CMS is touting is part of a ‘very antiquated, misleading and completely counterproductive process.’” AHCA CEO Mark Parkinson “advocated in an interview for a more ‘collaborative’ system modeled on how hospitals are currently surveyed, and said some of the deficiencies listed on the inspection reports – even if cured – would not have prevented the pandemic from sweeping into America’s long-term care facilities.” Parkinson said, “If the thought is that if these folks were washing their hands a little bit longer or changing gloves a little bit more, that that would have stopped this – that’s just simply ignoring the vicious nature of this virus.”

State Members Continue COVID-19 Response

Across the country, AHCA/NCAL affiliates continue to address the coronavirus and its effect on long-term care facilities. For instance,


Mobile, AL (5/5, Kirby, 39K) reports Christy deGraffenried, the legislative director of the Alabama Nursing Home Association, said, “Everybody, we’re fighting COVID-19 every day in our nursing homes. It is insidious. It’s pervasive. And it’s relentless.” She “offered her comments during a webcast organized by Democrats in the state House of Representatives.” DeGraffenried also “said infections likely will grow as Alabama and the nation begin tentatively to reopen businesses that had been closed to slow the spread of the virus.”


Asbury Park (NJ) Press

(5/5, 387K) reports Health Care Association of New Jersey president and CEO Jon Dolan said, “It’s important to know that we’re on the front of the battle.” Dolan also said that “at the federal level, ‘long-term care has never been the priority.’” He added, “I was very pleased to hear that so many facilities were doing so many things right,” and he “warned against vilifying nursing homes, saying: ‘I don’t want good people blamed for a bad virus.’”


Danville (VA) Register & Bee.

(5/6, Martz) reports, “The Virginia Health Care Association and Virginia Center for Assisted Living said the nursing homes and assisted living facilities they represent ‘have been working around the clock for months undertaking heroic work on the front lines of this pandemic to protect long term care residents.’”


Staffing Recommendations Provided By Risk Management Company Include Postponing Requests For Elective Time Off, Addressing Potential Issues Contributing To Transportation, Housing

McKnight’s Senior Living

(5/6, Novotney) reports, “Maintaining appropriate staffing in long-term care facilities is essential to providing a safe work environment for health care personnel and resident and patient care, but as the COVID-19 pandemic continues its spread, many facilities likely are experiencing staffing shortages due to virus exposures, other illnesses or the need to care for family members at home.” In order “to help long-term care facilities deal with potential staffing shortages due to COVID-19,” one risk management company “recommends that providers take time up front to identify the number of staff needed to provide a safe work environment and proper resident care, and to work to address factors that might prevent staff from reporting to work, such as housing and transportation.”