The Provider Relief Fund would receive an additional $35 billion under the latest coronavirus relief package proposal. That amount is a far cry from the $100 billion pledge that providers called for from Congress.
The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief proposal was passed by the Senate late last Thursday and is widely expected to be fast-tracked through the House. The package included a non-binding amendment proposed by a group of 10 senators that would replenish the Provider Relief Fund with $35 billion in new money, with 20% of that set aside for rural health providers.
The senators justified the additional funding saying the fund is a key way to help healthcare providers, including long-term care facilities, “to continue to care for their patients and play a central role in our vaccination and testing strategy,” they wrote in a letter to President Joe Biden.
LeadingAge in a statement to McKnight’s Long-Term Care News on Friday noted the amendment is non-binding, meaning Congress does not have to include it in their relief proposal and the $35 billion number is not set in stone. The organization, however, added it was pleased to see an “indication of Congressional support for much-needed additions to the PRF as part of the next COVID package to ensure providers, who provide critical services to our nation’s growing older adult population, survive the pandemic.”
The American Health Care Association added the organization has been “clear on the need for additional aid to healthcare providers, including long-term care.” The group has lobbied for an additional $100 billion for the Provider Relief Fund, in order to help providers with the ongoing costs of fighting the virus.
“Occupancy has been at record lows due to fewer new patients from the hospital and fewer new residents seeking long-term care,” the group previously toldMcKnight’s. “Long-term care is facing the worst economic crisis in its history because of the pandemic, and hundreds of facilities may have to close their doors in 2021, leaving vulnerable residents without the care they need.”