COVID-19 Updates

JULY 28, 2020 Mark Parkinson of AHCA Presents a Webinar To Discuss COVID-19 Impact On Nursing Homes. AL may also benefit from this webinar- Listen In!!


Upcoming Webinar To Discuss COVID-19 Impact On Nursing Homes

Provider Magazine (7/22, 151K) reports there will be “a collaborative summer webinar series between AHCA and PharMerica reflecting on COVID-19’s impact on nursing homes and the actions of the government and industry leaders as a result.” In the “upcoming webinar, presenters will share a high-level overview of the industry report and the impacts that COVID-19 has had on nursing homes.” Details will be given “around the actions the government and industry leaders are taking to manage those impacts and drive towards solutions,” and “focus will be on the American Health Care Association’s views on the challenges and required next steps, such as policies, funding, and occupancy and safety to move forward in a post-COVID-19 nursing home industry.”

Trump Announces $5B In Assistance To Nursing Homes To Help Combat COVID-19 Spikes

The AP (7/22, Alonso-Zaldivar) reports, “Fearing another grim wave of nursing home deaths as COVID-19 cases rebound, President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced his administration will provide $5 billion to help facilities counter the virus.” AHCA “welcomed the White House announcement but said more aid is needed for nursing homes as well as other long-term care facilities.

The Hill (7/22, Weixel, 2.98M) reports, “There are no restrictions on how nursing homes can use the funding, but CMS said homes [must] participate in an online training program focused on infection control and best practices.” In addition, “the administration will also require all nursing homes in states with a 5 percent positivity rate or greater must test all nursing home staff each week.”

Senior Housing News (7/22, Regan) reports AHCA/NCAL president and CEO Mark Parkinson said, “While this funding is a significant step forward, it is equally important for Congress to provide an additional $100 billion for the HHS Provider Relief Fund, which is accessible to all health care providers impacted by [COVID-19]. … And, that a sizeable portion of the fund be dedicated to helping both nursing homes and assisted living communities to cover the enormous costs associated with protecting vulnerable residents and staff from the virus.”

Among other outlets also reporting are ModernHealthcare (7/22, Subscription Publication, 214K), McKnight’s Long Term Care News (7/23), and Skilled Nursing News (7/22).

Senior Living Organizations Respond To Biden’s Prioritization Of Long-Term Care

McKnight’s Senior Living (7/23, Bonvissuto) reports, “Senior living associations say they appreciate that former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, is prioritizing long-term care in his proposal to create a ‘21st-century caregiving and education workforce.’” Biden’s proposal, unveiled Tuesday, “allocates $450 billion to help states establish innovation funds to offer cost-effective options for primary and preventive care, meals, transportation, home safety and adult day programs.” AHCA/NCAL told McKnight’s Senior Living, “We appreciate when federal officials recognize the importance of prioritizing long-term care and seek to expand access.”

Group Of 21 Governors Ask Congress For Health Care Workers, Businesses To Be Given “Common Sense” Legal Immunity In Next Relief Bill

McKnight’s Senior Living (7/23, Bowers) reports, “The governors of 21 states, all Republicans, are asking Congress to provide ‘common sense civil liability protections to health care workers, businesses, and schools’ in its next COVID-19 relief bill.” In a letter sent to leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives, the governors said, “When Americans take sensible steps to implement public health best practices, they should have confidence that they will be secure from unreasonable claims. Liability protections must be predictable, timely, targeted, and shield employers from legal risk when following the appropriate standard of care to protect employees, customers, and students.” Last month, AHCA/NCAL president and CEO Mark Parkinson told McKnight’s “that the pandemic created an ‘unprecedented public health emergency,’ and there is concern about the potential liability of health care providers, including long-term care facilities, responding to the pandemic and providing care while following updated guidance issued by federal agencies.”

Groups Continue Calls For Additional Funding

AHCA/NCAL and its state affiliates continue to request funding to help battle the coronavirus pandemic. For example, The Hill (7/22, Gangitano, 2.98M) reports, “The nursing home and assisted living industry is calling on Congress and the White House to provide its industry with targeted assistance in the next coronavirus relief package.” NCAL is among several groups that “teamed up to request increased funding to keep senior living residents and staff safe, noting that the financial impact of the coronavirus on the industry could be up to $57 billion over 12 months.” The groups said that “residents and employees should get quicker access to a vaccine,” and “also asked for access to and reimbursement for testing of employees and residents.”

ModernHealthcare (7/22, Cohrs, Subscription Publication, 214K) reports, “Health care industry stakeholders warned in a letter to congressional leaders dated Tuesday that a failure to allocate more funding would result in reduced access to testing and higher insurance premiums.” The industry groups wrote, “We share the goal of safely reopening the economy and returning to normal business, but this will require a sustained federal investment in testing facilitated by the public health and existing health care delivery system.” AHCA was among the letter’s signatories.

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (7/22, Berger) also reports on AHCA/NCAL’s funding requests.

WABI-TV Bangor, ME (7/23, 31K) reports, “The Maine Health Care Association wants the Mills Administration to set aside more money from the federal coronavirus relief for nursing homes.” Rick Erb, the association’s CEO, “said despite Maine’s relatively low case count, the danger is still real, and the money will help mitigate the risk.” He said, “It’s a need for more staff, it’s a need to pay them more. It’s a need to purchase PPE, which everyone is now familiar with. Those are the challenges for us.”


US Health Regulators To Begin Mandating Weekly Coronavirus Testing For Nursing Home Staff In States With High Rates Of Transmission

The Wall Street Journal (7/22, Mathews, Kamp, Subscription Publication, 7.57M) reports US health regulators will begin mandating weekly coronavirus testing of staff at nursing homes in states with high rates of coronavirus infections. The requirement was announced Wednesday but will only take effect when CMS issues a formal rule on the matter.

Bloomberg Law (7/23, Johnson, Pugh, Subscription Publication, 4K) reports the new requirement – “and $5 billion in new funding from the CARES Act provider relief fund – builds on an earlier HHS announcement that rapid [COVID-19] antigen testing devices will be distributed to nursing homes in the coming weeks.” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said, “As caseloads continue to increase in areas around the country, it has never been more important that nursing homes have what they need to maintain a sturdy defense against the virus.”

Trump Mentions New Testing Platform For Nursing Homes In Coronavirus Briefing

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (7/22, Berklan) reports, “Nursing homes in Southern states with surging coronavirus rates will benefit from a new testing approach, President Trump said during a media briefing Tuesday evening at the White House.” He gave “prepared remarks and answered a handful of reporter questions without advisors at his side for just under a half hour.” After “imploring young Americans to avoid packed bars and other crowded indoor gatherings,” Trump said, “We’re surging testing capacity to identify and isolate cases. This includes a newly approved testing platform to nursing homes across the South.”


Racial Disparities Among Older Adults Should Be Addressed In Next COVID-19 Relief Package, Senator Casey Says

McKnight’s Senior Living (7/22, Bonvissuto) reports, “The next COVID-19 relief legislation passed by Congress should address racial disparities among older adults, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), ranking member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, said Tuesday at a committee hearing.” Casey said, “‘We have a chance right now, in the next three weeks, to begin to address these injustices’ for older Americans…adding that legislation in the near term needs to address a national testing strategy, personal protective equipment funding, expansion of community long term services and supports, premium pay for ‘heroes on the front lines’ caring for older adults, a guarantee of access to quality affordable health care, and a specific plan to keep long-term care residents and workers safe.” The Tuesday “hearing was focused on understanding the racial and ethnic health disparities that older adults are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as meaningful solutions.”


Nursing Homes Face Shortages Of PPE, Staffing, While Hotspots Drive Spikes In Nursing Home Cases, Report Says

Skilled Nursing News (7/22, Flynn) reports, “Almost 3,000 nursing homes across the U.S. reported a shortage of nursing staff, clinical workers, aides, or other staff as of June 28, while almost 2,700 reported a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), according to a July 21 issue brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).” Overall “almost 4,800 nursing homes reported either a staffing shortage or a PPE shortage; the deficits are similar in both COVID-19 hotspots and locations with a lower incidence of the disease, according to the issue brief.” Moreover, KFF wrote, “Long-term care cases in ‘hotspot states’ with wider community transmission have risen at four times the rate as long-term care cases in non-hotspot states. … Long-term care facility cases in 23 hotspot states where data are available rose by 18% over a 14 day period (from 123,000 cases to 144,800 cases), while long-term care cases in 12 non-hotspot states rose by 4% over a similar 14-day period (from 125,500 cases to 130,300 cases).”

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (7/22, Berger) also reports.

In Four Days, Nursing Home Went From No Suspected COVID-19 Cases To 85 Percent Positive Rate

Skilled Nursing News (7/21, Spanko) reports, “In perhaps the starkest illustration yet of the need for routine testing in long-term care, a new analysis reveals how one nursing home went from zero suspected cases to an 85% positive rate in four days.” A research team “looked at the isolated case of a single facility in Massachusetts, which the state government had eyed in April as a COVID-only building under an early cohorting plan.” As of April 1st, none “of the 97 residents displayed symptoms as defined by daily screening protocols.” However, even with various “restrictions in place, the initial two rounds of universal testing revealed an 85% positive rate among residents by April 4; nearly 40% of the facility’s staff also tested positive, prompting the facility to more actively divide the facility into positive and negative cohorts.” The research was published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.