Long-term care providers in Pennsylvania are praising lawmakers after the State Senate unanimously passed a bill Tuesday that provides more than $500 million in emergency funding for operators. 

The measure, Senate Bill 1122, now heads to the Pennsylvania House. Overall, the emergency fund includes $449 million for long-term care, $50 million for Community HealthChoices and $8 million for Living Independence for the Elderly (LIFE) providers, LeadingAge PA explained.

“Nursing facilities will invest immediately on providing frontline help to our brave health care professionals and critical personal protective equipment. We want to thank all senators for their support. This is an important step toward protecting our most vulnerable and those who care for them on a daily basis,” LeadingAge PA President and CEO Adam Marles said.

The emergency fund would help cover providers’ skyrocketing costs for things like personal protective equipment and wage increases for staff members related to the COVID-19 response, Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, noted. 

“This is an important step in the legislative process, and we now look forward to working with members of the House of Representatives to ensure our most vulnerable residents receive the aid they need,” Shamberg said. 

“After more than two months of uncertainty, the members of the Senate sent much-needed help to long-term care providers, workers and their residents. We thank them for their support,” he added.

Pennsylvania AG announces criminal probe into nursing homes 

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Tuesday announced that it’s actively investigating nursing homes regarding criminal neglect of patients and residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

“While we salute and appreciate nursing home staff on the front lines during this pandemic, we will not tolerate those who mistreat our seniors and break the law,” Shapiro said in a statement.

He also encouraged people to share “relevant complaints with us on our special tip line so we can best protect people in nursing homes.”

The disease has killed about 2,600 nursing home and other facility residents across the state, which accounts for two-thirds of its death toll, NBC10 Philadelphia reported.  The office also didn’t specify how many or which facilities were currently being investigated.

LeadingAge Pennsylvania vowed to support nursing home members, workers and residents during any investigation in a statement.