The White House and federal lawmakers have resumed negations on another COVID-19 relief bill, which could come in the nick of time for some long-term care providers.
On Oct. 6, as he was recovering from a coronavirus diagnosis, President Trump said he was halting negations between his staff and Democrats until after the Nov. 3 election. The move was sharply criticized by provider group LeadingAge, among others, which blasted, “Shutting down any hope of additional resources to fight the pandemic is surrendering to the virus, and recklessly endangering more lives.”
A few days later, Trump reversed field. “I shut down talks two days ago because they weren’t working out,” he said last Thursday. “Now they are starting to work out. We’re starting to have some very productive talk.”
But even though talks restarted, the two sides had yet to agree on how the overall cost of the stimulus package, Inside Health Policy reported. The White House has proposed a $1.6 trillion bundle, while House Democrats passed a $2.2 trillion proposal earlier this month.
“We’ve been working on what the language would look like. We have our differences in numbers, but it’s no use having just the numbers discussion unless we know what that money is spent on,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said during a press conference Thursday.
“Otherwise, we’re just giving billions — hundreds of billions, more than a trillion dollars — to the president to spend any way he wants, but not to address the issues at hand,” she added.
Long-term care providers should be able to “make it” until there’s a coronavirus vaccine widely available if another federal stimulus package comes by the end of the year, Mark Parkinson, American Health Care Association President and CEO, predicted last week.
Overall, Congress has provided about $175 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Provider Relief Fund, which provides needed dollars to healthcare providers impacted by COVID-19. About $10 billion of that funding has specifically been dedicated for nursing homes. Parkinson recently noted that nearly all of the $175 billion in relief has been spent despite coronavirus cases continuing to rise in large parts of the country.
AHCA has previously pushed for an additional $100 billion to the fund with a “substantial portion” dedicated to long-term care.
“Funding from HHS has helped nursing homes pay for additional staffing, secure vital PPE equipment, and conduct regular testing of residents and staff in response to the COVID pandemic,” Parkinson told Fox News over the weekend.
“We need Congress to prioritize our vulnerable seniors and their caregivers in nursing homes and assisted living communities by passing another COVID-funding package before they leave town for the elections,” he added.