Katie Smith-Sloan, Hall of Honor
LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan
Katie Smith-Sloan, Hall of Honor
LeadingAge CEO Katie Smith Sloan

The long-term care associations offered starkly different responses to Senate Republicans’ $1 trillion coronavirus bill, entitled the HEAL Act, which Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) revealed late Monday. Details emerging about the legislation, which still needs to be reconciled with the House version, indicate it would bring some positive offerings for long-term care providers yet also fall short in some aspects.

The Republican version contains the following measures that would affect nursing home providers: significantly less funding for provider relief than what is being sought by long-term care providers; liability protections for healthcare providers; and an extension of broadened telehealth reimbursement through 2021, according to the InsideHealthPolicy news service.

Also of interest to providers: The bill includes deductions for employer purchases of testing, personal protective equipment and other supplies; provides $16 billion in new funds for state testing grants; and $26 billion for vaccine research and distribution. 

The American Health Care Association praised the legislation.

“We appreciate Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans recognizing that long-term care providers need further assistance with testing, funding and reasonable legal protections,” AHCA said in a statement. “Coupled with the HEROES Act in the House, it’s encouraging and appreciated that members of Congress are committed to protecting our vulnerable residents and heroic staff members as this pandemic continues to rage on.”

Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, however, said the bill “treats older lives as expendable.” 

“The resources provided are woefully insufficient,” she noted. “The package offers only a fraction of the $100 billion that will be needed to help aging services providers protect older adults and offers no specific funds for aging services providers. It does nothing to address the needs of more 750,000 older adults in HUD federally-subsidized and privately-owned housing programs.”

The legislation follows the Democrats’ $3 trillion proposal, the HEROES Act, which was unveiled earlier this year. Leaders of both chambers are expected to negotiate into August on a final bill, leaving some aid up for grabs as several CARES Act provisions expire at the end of this week. A $600 federal unemployment benefit is ending, and federal eviction protections for many renters are also reaching their conclusion.