“The Tide Has Changed Dramatically” for Financial Support for Nursing Homes

While nursing home operators have relied heavily on federal government assistance through the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) and other mechanisms to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, some executives have found more success in refocusing advocacy efforts on state legislatures for future funding. .

“When the stimulus bill came out and was passed with trillions of dollars, there was basically nothing for the vendors. When the first infrastructure bill was introduced, trillions of dollars went to nothing for the providers. And that’s when I went to our board and said, ‘we have to change our game manual,’ ”said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association (AHCA).

Parkinson was one of three industry leaders who took part in a panel Tuesday at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) conference in Houston to discuss funding and policy proposals. He was joined on stage by Argentum President and CEO James Balda and David Schless, President of the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA). Brian Jurutka, President and CEO of NIC, moderated the panel.

Parkinson said that while federal funding has been and continues to be an avenue for nursing homes, he recognizes that the mere availability of such funds is scarce.

“We’re going to continue to get what we can federally, but we’re going to scratch and scratch for a diminishing amount of money and there’s not much there,” he said.

Late last month, the U.S. House of Representatives revealed a dramatically scaled-down version of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan, a massive economic proposal that aims to expand the nation’s social safety net. The bill consolidated some of the proposals from the 2021 Nursing Home Improvement and Accountability Act, including funding to improve nursing home investigations and ensure staff ratios are monitored and adjusted accordingly. result.

The plan also allocated $ 150 billion for home care, particularly funding to help reduce wait lists for home care services and improve low wages for workers.

The Biden administration also announced in September that $ 25.5 billion will be made available to healthcare providers, including $ 17 billion from phase four of the Provider Relief Fund and an additional $ 8.5 billion from the American Rescue Plan to help providers serving Rural Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Medicare.

At the state level, the Texas Health Care Association asked for $ 400 million earlier this year to help personnel suppliers hire amid a shortage of qualified nurses. Texas lawmakers last month passed Senate Bill 8, also known as the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) fund bill, which includes financial support for long-term care in the state.

The bill proposed $ 200 million in grants for nursing homes and $ 178.3 million in grants for assisted living facilities, home health agencies, community workers and facilities serving nursing homes. people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in an intermediate care facility. It authorizes the use of ARPA funds as a means of helping these institutions recruit and retain staff.

Parkinson said the AHCA and its state affiliates plan to “double down” on the state’s funding strategy for the remainder of this year and through 2022.

“I am optimistic that we will get significant additional funds; I think that will come mainly from the States ”, he declared.

Parkinson spoke of other ways the AHCA can help advocate for nursing homes, including the need to make permanent initiatives such as the Temporary Nursing Assistant (TNA) program to help facilities overcome nursing homes. staff shortage storm.

The program is linked to the ongoing COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) which was extended on October 15 by US Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra for an additional 90 days.

He also discussed the need to hold recruitment agencies accountable for their prices and speed up the worker visa application process.

“Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all quick fix. I think that’s going to be a number of things that we need to merge, ”Parkinson said.

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