On June 23, skilled nursing providers in Rhode Island cheered as the just-passed state budget promised them $30 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Those facilities are still waiting for the money, a slice of $1.1 billion the state received from the federal Rescue Plan. State lawmakers required that at least 80% of the $30 million be “dedicated to direct care workers,” according to the House Fiscal Office. The money was set to be distributed among the state’s more than 80 nursing homes according to each facility’s 2020 Medicaid patient census.
More than 9 in 10 nursing homes in Rhode Island are losing money, with 87% of them at “financial risk,” according to a March 2022 CliftonLarsonAllen report.
Vincent Marzullo, a former state AARP president who sits on the board of the Senior Agenda Coalition of RI, was outraged at the delay, according to local media.
“It’s extremely troubling that the state administration seems not to have any urgency and/or concentrated attention to the well-being and capacity demands of our nursing homes, which have struggled all during this pandemic,” he wrote in an email.
“The owners/operators have had to increase care hours, obtain more protective equipment, increase wages, and in many cases change their business model with the promise of receiving financial aid back to July 1.”
State officials are finalizing the necessary paperwork to send checks to the nursing homes, said Derek Gomes, a spokesperson for the state’s Pandemic Recovery Office. Gomes said the US Treasury Department demands “financial and key performance indicator reporting” for ARPA funds spent by states, and said it takes time “to ensure that all US Treasury requirements will be met.”
Gomes said he expects the state to send the money before the end of the year.