Just one round of testing every nursing home resident and staff member would cost about $440 million nationwide, according to data released Wednesday by the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living.
The hefty bill — which doesn’t include costs for assisted living and other long-term care facilities — showcases why efforts to conduct ongoing and universal COVID-19 testing would be “unsustainable” for providers without additional funding from federal and state governments, AHCA/NCAL said.
“For months now, we have been advocating for expanded and priority testing in nursing homes to protect our residents and caregivers, but this is a significant undertaking and cost for nursing homes to shoulder on their own,” AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson said.
California, New York, Texas, Florida and Ohio are among the states where one-time, universal testing would be most expensive, according to the largest association of nursing home providers. The effort would cost about $36.3 million in California; $33.9 million in New York; $29 million in Texas; $25.3 million in Florida; and $24.9 million in Ohio.
California would need more than 242,000 of total tests for one round of testing. New York would need more than 226,000 tests, while Texas would need about 193,000 tests.
Among the less costly states, universal testing in Wyoming and Vermont would cost about $658,000 and $925,000, respectively. Wyoming would need about 4,300 total tests.
Data also revealed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to test nursing home staff members weekly would cost more than $1 billion per month.
AHCA/NCAL has also called for the federal government to create a $10 billion emergency relief fund for skilled nursing facilities to help with additional supply, testing and workforce-related costs.
Last week, the federal government urged governors to begin testing all residents and staff members for COVID-19.
In other coronavirus-related news:
A majority of nursing homes across the United States have successfully enrolled in the National Healthcare Safety Network to report their COVID-19 data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Jeneita Bell, M.D., NHSN, Long-term Care lead for the CDC.
“That’s definitely a milestone that’s worth celebrating. Congratulations to you all,” Bell said Wednesday day during the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ weekly stakeholder call for nursing homes.
Officials also noted the first reporting deadline was last weekend and updated data reporting deadlines are set for Sunday, May 31 and June 7. Providers will receive warning letters for not complying through May, but fines will start if they haven’t complied by June 7. Providers face at least $1,000 per week fines for not reporting infections within 12 hours of learning about them.
CDC and CMS officials added that CDC guidance for infection prevention in nursing homes was updated Tuesday. They stressed the need for facilities to have one individual with infection control training to be the on-site manager of its COVID prevention and response activities on a full-time basis.
“Having that person is so critically important and we would like to see all of us look at our infection prevention resourcing with a more critical eye,” said Nimalie Stone, M.D., medical epidemiologist for long-term care in the CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion.