Long-term care providers in Pennsylvania have accused the state of withholding more than $150 million in federal funding meant to support nursing homes during the public health crisis.
The Pennsylvania Health Care Association, LeadingAge Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Coalition of Affiliated Healthcare & Living Communities filed a lawsuit against the state in December, demanding that state officials reallocate the funding to providers.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the first federal stimulus package for the pandemic, provided increased Medicaid funding, which resulted in an increase to the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) of about $153 million, according to the suit. “At a time when they need assistance the most, the Department is unlawfully withholding over $153 million in additional payments from certain nursing facilities,” the suit stated.
Instead of providing the supplemental payments to nursing homes, the state has used the money to fill budget holes for other programs. It has used the funding “as its own piggybank,” the suit said.
“The department’s refusal to distribute the federal funds is particularly egregious here because the funds were only received as a result of assessments paid by the nursing facilities,” the lawsuit stated.
Zach Shamberg, PHCA’s president and CEO, added that providers know Pennsylvania officials want the best for long-term care residents; the best way to achieve the shared goal is for the state to immediately distribute the funds.
“Despite our best efforts during months of negotiations, the commonwealth has refused to distribute this funding to our long-term care providers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, jeopardizing mitigation efforts and the safety of the residents in our care,” Shamberg said.