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Nursing home stakeholders in Washington state are accusing the officials there of sitting on federal coronavirus relief funding designed to help nursing home operators struggling with increased costs during the pandemic. 

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which was signed into law by President Trump in late March, increased the federal government’s Medicaid match by 6.2%. That was supposed to mean an increase of $29 per day for Medicaid-funded residents, but instead the state only allotted $5 per day starting in July, local media reports detailed. The state defended the amount reduction as part of an effort to tighten the state budget. 

“Their excuse that this is ‘belt-tightening’ is unconscionable,” Robin Dale, president and CEO of the Washington Health Care Association, told local media. 

“They are taking the position that cutting funding for those on the front lines of the gravest health crisis in a century is somehow acceptable if it is explained away as ‘belt-tightening.’ They are saying that we can respond to the pandemic and protect our most vulnerable on five dollars a day,” Dale said. 

Some providers in the state have reported that the crisis has increased costs for them to an average of $50 per person per day, according to LeadingAge Washington. 

“They need the support right now from our state and so, how you could then take the money that’s going to care for them during this emergency; it’s hard to even understand what the logic behind that was,” Alyssa Odegaard, vice president of public policy for LeadingAge Washington, said. 

Both organizations have sent a letter to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) about the funding concerns.