AHCA’s Mark Parkinson

Top nursing home leaders late Wednesday praised the administration’s promise of $5 billion in additional funding to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.

But nearly with their next breath, they added that even more will be needed to keep residents and workers safe.

“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 healthcare 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,” said American Health Care Association President and CEO Mark Parkinson in a statement.

Parkinson noted that the $5 billion in additional Provider Relief Funds headed to nursing homes will help battle the “concerning” growing number of new COVID cases around the country.

“We are hopeful that the announcement today will help accelerate the rollout of improved testing, and that the administration will continue to support long term care providers,” he said.

Just a day earlier, he publicly called for the $100 billion provider fund.

Katie Smith Sloan, the president and CEO of LeadingAge, also was happy about the additional funding. But she emphasized caution as well.

“Tonight’s announcement of $5 billion for nursing homes from the Provider Relief Fund is a good next step, but any effort must be backed by a coordinated national plan that will help protect millions of older adults,” Sloan said. “There are important unanswered questions about this program, including how far this funding will go to support the new mandate of increased staff testing. We look forward to learning more.”

She said that the most important question to raise now is: “Is this yet another patch in the patchwork federal response we’ve seen from the administration so far? Or is this announcement a signal that real relief is on its way?

“What vulnerable older adults and their care providers really need–in nursing homes and across all settings — is meaningful support from Congress in the next COVID-19 relief package and a comprehensive strategy from the White House, and we need aging services providers placed at the front of the line alongside hospitals.”

Congress has just a few weeks to hammer out details of a fourth — and what many say will be the last — economic stimulus bill.