More funding for nursing home strike teams could soon be coming under the latest coronavirus relief measure proposed by President-elect Joe Biden.
Biden unveiled his coronavirus rescue plan Thursday evening. The emergency relief proposal calls for mounting a scaled-up national COVID-19 vaccine program and sending $1,400 stimulus checks per-person, which would benefit healthcare workers, including those in nursing homes, and residents.
Biden’s proposal also focuses on protecting vulnerable populations in congregate settings, particularly those in long-term care. The measure calls for providing critical funding for states to deploy strike teams to long-term care facilities experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and to conduct better infection control oversight.
“Long-term care residents and workers account for almost 40% of all U.S. COVID-19 deaths,” the measure states. “Further, African-American and Latina women, who have borne the brunt of the pandemic, are overrepresented among long-term care workers.”
Strike teams are resource teams designed to help workers manage and respond to an outbreak and have been widely used to help long-term care facilities during the pandemic.
LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said “it’s heartening to hear that the new Administration acknowledges the severity of the pandemic and is focused on a national approach to the next phase of relief.”
“Because even as vaccines are making their way to long-term care residents and staff, the reality is that this crisis is not over,” Sloan said in a statement.
“Experience with this pandemic has taught us that the devil is in the details. We look forward to hearing the specifics of how the plan announced [Thursday] will be implemented, but appreciate that it proposes investing real money into solutions. Only if these plans provide relief without creating new burdens, will the incoming Administration effectively protect lives,” she added.
Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association, called for more relief funding for long-term care providers.
“We appreciate the incoming administration putting forth another COVID relief package, but unfortunately, this proposal fails to properly support our healthcare heroes who are neck high in responding to the pandemic,” Parkinson said in a statement.
He explained that providers are on the brink, with exhausted staff and hundreds of facilities threatening to close and called on the federal government to “rally around our healthcare heroes and seniors in long-term care.”
“Even with the vaccine on its way, long-term care facilities and other healthcare providers need immediate financial aid in order to respond to this surge as well as to keep their doors open. We urge the new administration and Congress to add another $100 billion to the Provider Relief Fund, as was passed in the HEROES Act last year, and dedicate a substantial portion of this fund to long-term care,” he said.