The nation’s two largest nursing home associations are urging lawmakers to reach a deal on two COVID-19 relief bills that would provide $2 billion in overall aid to providers.
A group of bipartisan lawmakers, led by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mitt Romney (R-UT), on Monday unveiled the legislative text and multiple summaries for their COVID-19 emergency relief bills, which propose a combined $908 billion in emergency aid. The measures were first announced last week by the senators.
One package includes $35 billion for the Provider Relief Fund and $2 billion for nursing homes, long-term care and assisted living facilities, and home- and community-based services. The funding could be used to address multiple coronavirus-related issues, including testing and mitigation efforts, support for vaccine distribution, purchasing personal protective equipment and increased staffing costs.
Of that $2 billion, $200 million would be specifically for nursing home strike teams.
“Long-term care providers cannot continue to fight the pandemic without the financial support of Congress,” the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living said in a statement.
“Members of Congress must come to an agreement during the lame duck session to pass another stimulus package. Long-term care residents and staff cannot afford to wait,” the association added.
The second package addresses liability protections for businesses, including healthcare, which has not only been a point of contention among Democrats and Republicans, but also a top priority for providers during the public health emergency. It would establish a nationwide gross negligence care standard for COVID-19 exposure, medical malpractice and workplace testing claims.
In a letter to Congressional leaders Tuesday, LeadingAge urged that lawmakers include both bills in any legislative packages under consideration.
“Time is short and the need is so great,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said, “… the dual packages under consideration don’t accomplish everything, but they will go a long way toward saving lives.”