COVID-19 Updates


Expert Says Now Is The Time Long-Term Care Operators Should Explore Short-Term Loans Through The Accelerated Payments Program Offered By CMS

Provider Magazine (4/15, Connole, 151K) reports, “Bill Ulrich, chief executive officer, Consolidated Billing Services, Spokane, Wash., says now is the time for long term care operators to explore short-term loans via the Accelerated Payments program offered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an initiative intended to help ease some of the financial pain of the COVID-19 crisis for Medicare providers.” As “the Department of Health and Human Services has included long term care operators in its release of some $30 billion in grants out of its $100 billion health care provider relief funding effort as authorized by Congress, and some states have adjusted Medicaid reimbursement, the surest bet on garnering loans quickly is through Accelerated Payments, Ulrich says.” Additionally, the American Health Care Association has provided an update on the CMS loan program, with more details provided in AHCA’s Accelerated and Advanced Payments FAQ document here.

Leaders From AHCA/NCAL, HIDA Jointly Urge FEMA To Prioritize Assisted Living Communities, Nursing Centers, PPE Distributors During Pandemic

Provider Magazine (4/15, Connole, 151K) reports, “Leaders of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) and Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA) have written to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to jointly urge the prioritization of skilled nursing centers and assisted living communities and the distributors who serve these facilities to receive masks, gowns, and other vital supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The “supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) are urgently needed at facilities across the country, as well as for the men and women distributing medical supplies, according to Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of AHCA/NCAL, and Matthew Rowan, president and CEO of HIDA.” Their “letter noted that medical-surgical wholesalers, which HIDA represents, deliver medical products and supplies, manage logistics, and offer customer services to more than 294,000 points of care.”


AHCA Recognizes Avamere Olympic Rehabilitation Of Sequim As Part Of Quality Initiative Recognition Program

The Sequim (WA) Gazette (4/15, 24K) reports, “The American Health Care Association recently recognized Avamere Olympic Rehabilitation of Sequim for quality care as part of the Quality Initiative Recognition Program.” In order “to earn the recognition, rehabilitation communities must meet one or more of the AHCA Quality Initiative goals: safely reduce long and short-stay hospitalizations; improve long or short-stay satisfaction or achieve over a 90 percent satisfaction rate; safely reduce off-label use of antipsychotics; improve short-stay functional improvement or long-stay worsening mobility, and/or maintain greater than 75 percent on short-stay functional improvement and less than 25 percent on long-stay worsening mobility.”

State Organizations Plead For Additional Supplies

Affiliate organizations of AHCA/NCAL throughout the country are asking for additional supplies for facilities. For example, Alabama Live (4/15, Yurkanin, 734K) reports, “Nursing homes in particular have had a hard time obtaining necessary supplies, said John Matson, spokesman for the Alabama Nursing Home Association.” According to Matson, “Demand is far outstripping supply. … That is hard for everyone, but especially hard for nursing homes.” Matson said that nursing homes need as much PPE “as anywhere, if not more.”

The New Bedford (MA) Standard-Times (4/14, Service, 53K) reports “Massachusetts Senior Care Association President Tara Gregorio outlined dire stakes in a Monday letter to Beacon Hill’s top three leaders, pleading for more resources beyond the significant steps already taken to stave off the most alarming projections that thousands of nursing home residents may die as a result of the outbreak.” Gregorio wrote to House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Karen Spilka and Gov. Charlie Baker (R), “To date, hundreds of nursing facility residents have died and we are now hearing reports of caregiver deaths. … Given the vulnerability of the nursing facility population, this devastation will continue to increase at alarming rates without immediate and urgent action on the part of state government.” She wrote that “models based on data from the American Health Care Association predicting the impact from the virus in Massachusetts are ‘sobering under any scenario, whether best, most likely or worst case.’” She also wrote, “This dire forecast must compel us to act immediately in order to decrease the likelihood of this unacceptable outcome and better protect our residents and staff from this deadly disease.”

West Virginia Public Broadcasting (4/15, Schimmel) reports Kentucky Association of Health care Facilities president Betsy Johnson “said facilities in the region were already running low on personal protective equipment after a significant flu season.” She “said most of the protective equipment has been given to local hospitals, leaving nursing homes in continued short supply.” Marty Wright, CEO of the West Virginia Health Care Association wrote, “Many facilities have been trying for weeks to find alternative sources, even paying outrageous prices, only to see the orders go unfulfilled or indefinitely delayed.”

State Affiliates Support Extra Pay For Long-Term Care Facility Workers

AHCA/NCAL member organizations have advocated and support supplemental pay for certain health care workers. For instance, The New Hampshire Union Leader (4/14, Leader, 109K) reports New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced “$300 a week in extra pay for all front-line workers caring for seniors, low-income residents and the disabled.” New Hampshire Health Care Association president/CEO Brendan Williams “said COVID-19 has increased expenses for skilled nursing homes by $10,000 a day.” Williams also said, “This funding for our front-line heroes is essential. … Their dedication demands our support.”

WPRI-TV Providence, RI (4/14, Leslie, 49K) reports “The Rhode Island Health Care Association…recently submitted a proposal to Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) advocating for all essential workers to receive an additional $1,000 a week in hazard pay for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.” RICHA president and CEO Scott Fraser said, “Nursing home workers are on the job every day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. … We believe an additional $1,000 payment is the least our state can do to assist workers who are stepping up each day to care for our frail, elderly residents.” Fraser also “said the proposed bonus would apply not only to health care workers but also to anyone who has been deemed essential, including but not limited to grocery store employees, cleaning services and maintenance crews.”

AHCA/NCAL, Members Continue Coronavirus Response

AHCA/NCAL and its affiliate organizations continue to respond to the pandemic, and their work has been highlighted by a variety of sources. For example, The AP (4/15, Choi, Mustian) reports, “Mark Parkinson, the head of the American Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, said a national reporting system for homes could at least help prioritize the potential hot spots most in need of testing and personal protective equipment such as masks and gowns.”

The Indianapolis Business Journal (4/14, 47K) reports, “The Indiana Health Care Association said decisions about resident transfers should be based on guidance from federal and state governments, and ‘not based on fear or averting treatment for COVID-19 positive citizens in a given community.’” Association president Zach Cattell said in written remarks, “Unfortunately, some long-term-care facilities that desire to do the right thing, according to the guidance from government, have been directly confronted with fear and misunderstanding.” He also said, “It is our job to help create better understanding and acceptance of the difficult choices that are being made in our health care system during the pandemic. These difficult choices may mean that residents have to be moved from one long-term-care facility to another, even if they are not symptomatic or a positive for COVID-19.”

The AP (4/14, Davies) reports that the Indiana Health Care Association “said in a statement that the state should help identify alternative treatment locations for COVID-19 patients and make sure long-term care workers have adequate protection supplies.”

The New Orleans Times-Picayune (4/15, Roberts, 480K) reports that the state of Louisiana stopped reporting names of individual facilities identified as “clusters” of coronavirus earlier this month, “citing the volume of cases and consultation with the federal” CDC, but “a CDC spokesman said last week that the agency had never given advice to states on what to report.” In addition, the Louisiana Nursing Home Association on Tuesday “issued a statement saying that [it] had not asked the state to stop reporting the names of individual nursing homes.” In the statement, LNHA’s executive Mark Berger said, “I can unequivocally state that the Louisiana Nursing Home Association (LNHA) has never requested, suggested or implied that the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) should stop publicly releasing the names of nursing facilities with cases of COVID-19.”


Noninvasive Ventilation Therapy May Provide Care For Patients Critically Ill With COVID-19 Who Do Not Yet Need Ventilator, Research Indicates

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (4/15, Marselas) reports that “noninvasive ventilation therapy, such as that provided by CPAP machines, could offer care for critically ill COVID-19 patients who aren’t yet in need of ventilators, according to a series of white papers and published evidence from China and Italy.” The CDC “has said COVID-19 patients who don’t require hospitalization but need oxygen supplementation could possibly get it through noninvasive ventilation, whereby air is delivered through a mask or mouthpiece.” In a statement on COVID-19 treatment options released late March, the FDA “recommended other alternatives [to ventilators] that should be considered such as devices for treating sleep apnea,” and “a George Washington University professor suggested CPAPs could act as ‘life-saving, stop-gap’ ventilators.”

California Announces $500 Stipends For CNAs, LVNs Working in Skilled Nursing Settings, Largely Funded By Facebook Donation

Skilled Nursing News (4/15, Spanko) reports, “The state of California this week announced a program that will provide $500 stipends for certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) who work in the skilled nursing setting, funded primarily by a $25 million donation from social networking giant Facebook.” Those “frontline caregivers who qualify under the ‘Skilled Nursing Facility Hero Awards’ program can receive a one-time, $500 payment from the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD).” However, “only the first 50,000 people who apply for the grants online will receive the cash, according to a statement from OSHPD acting director Marko Mijic.”

HUD Offers Mortgage Payment Relief Under CARES Act For Multifamily Properties, Assisted Housing Programs

McKnight’s Senior Living (4/15, Novotney) reports that “as a result of the ongoing global pandemic, the Department of Housing and Urban Development last week introduced new mortgage payment relief guidance under the CARES Act.” This “measure targets borrowers with multifamily mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration or borrowers participating in other HUD multifamily housing programs.” In addition, “FHA announced that, as required by the CARES Act, all owners/agents of FHA-insured multifamily properties and properties participating in HUD multifamily assisted housing programs must cease evictions of tenants for non-payment of rent for 120 days.”