The recent $4.9 billion funding distribution to address COVID-19 in skilled nursing facilities amounts to $50,000 for each SNF operator, plus $2,500 for each licensed bed. But a post-acute care expert noted that while the “uniformity and simplicity” of the allocation formula was likely necessary to the plan’s approval, regulators must address local payment inequities to deliver fair funding to providers.

“What’s lost in the national dollar signs is the ultimate equality of the allocation formula. Uniformity and simplicity were likely essential to achieve approval, especially relating to a national emergency with questionable local data; but it further exacerbates the primary, structural problem I now call the ‘$NF Parity Paradox,’” Marc Zimmet, president and CEO of Zimmet Healthcare Services Group, told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News

Marc Zimmet
Marc Zimmet

Zimmet explained that the additional funding won’t save a 120-bed facility in New York that lost 40% of its census during the pandemic, but it may overcompensate an identical provider in Iowa that was largely unaffected. 

“Hundreds of similar yet unrelated incongruities invalidate the quantitative comparative integrity metrics among providers as federal policies conflict with state priorities,” Zimmet said. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed where SNFs rank politically in the continuum of care among states, according to Zimmet. For example, he said the FMAP (Federal Medical Assistance Percentage) increase under the original CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act was designed to alleviate provider burdens, and in most impacted states the money was used to “fortify providers on frontlines.” But SNFs in hard-hit states such as New York and New Jersey didn’t receive any of those funds due to state Medicaid policies.

“These are complex issues that collectively require a uniform description to become a movement. If we are ever to truly be a ‘national’ industry, the ‘$NF Parity Paradox’ is a cause that has officially graduated from ‘damaging’ to ‘devastating,’” he said. 

In all, Zimmet said the recent federal funding move serves as a “big win for the industry” and thanked the American Health Care Association, AHCA President and CEO Mark Parkinson and LeadingAge for their efforts to secure the funding for providers. 

“I have never seen such tenacity and passion in my entire career.  I can’t imagine how difficult it was to secure this funding — amazing,” he said.