Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare
On September 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that “assisted living facilities (ALFs) may now apply for funding under the Provider Relief Fund Phase 2 General Distribution allocation. This announcement bolsters the Trump administration’s commitment to support health care providers in addressing both the economic harm and additional expenses caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).This funding was made possible through the bipartisan CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.
“HHS is committed to ensuring America’s healthcare providers have what they need to protect their patients and continue providing care through the pandemic,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “By expanding the Provider Relief Fund to assisted living facilities, we are supporting more frontline providers and helping to protect the nearly 1 million vulnerable older Americans in their care.”
Through its ongoing efforts to support providers in need, HHS is inviting ALFs that may have been previously ineligible to apply for Phase 2 General Distribution funding. ALFs support older adults and people with disabilities with a wide range of assistance for activities of daily living. Nearly 1 million older adults live in an estimated 28,000 assisted living facilities across the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ALFs and the population they serve are particularly vulnerable to the spread and impact of COVID-19. To combat this risk and better protect their residents, many ALFs have implemented CDC recommendations that have resulted in increased health care related costs to their facilities. HHS is encouraging ALFs to apply for funding to help minimize the financial hardships of these increased expenses caused by COVID-19.
Like other providers applying for Phase 2 funding, eligible ALFs will receive 2 percent of their annual revenue from patient care. Helpful information for these providers can be found at the Provider Relief Fund website, which includes previously recorded Phase 2 application webinars, frequently asked questions (FAQs) and other information on how to apply through the recently simplified application process. Assisted living facilities, like all providers applying for the current Phase 2 General Distribution funding will have until September 13, 2020 to begin their application by entering their Tax Identification Number (TIN) for validation.”
For updated information and data on the Provider Relief Fund, visit: hhs.gov/providerrelief.
The Associated Press reported on September 1, 2020 that Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir said that same day the government plans to ship rapid coronavirus tests to assisted living facilities, moving to fill a testing gap for older adults who don’t need the constant attention of a nursing home. “Assisted living facilities will be followed by senior day care centers and home health agencies in getting the tests.” The tests will start going out in two to three weeks.
“The tests will come from a supply of 150 million ordered from test maker Abbott Laboratories. Abbott’s rapid test, the size of a credit card, is the first that doesn’t require specialty computer equipment to process. It delivers results in about 15 minutes and is priced at $5, significantly lower than similar older tests…Until now, the government’s effort to improve COVID-19 testing for vulnerable older adults has been focused on nursing homes, which are overseen by Medicare. Assisted living facilities don’t provide skilled nursing care and are outside of Medicare’s purview. Nursing homes have already been receiving another kind of fast test, from different manufacturers.”
“Assisted living providers have not received federal support during this pandemic, and this is a positive step in the right direction,” said a statement from the industry group American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living. The group said the questions about resupplying tests will have to be addressed.
“For months, we’ve been pleading to officials for a coordinated federal response, backed by full funding and supplies,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president of LeadingAge, which represents a cross-section of nonprofit care providers. “This welcomed development is help (that) can’t come soon enough because testing is one of the most critical elements to protect vulnerable older adults.”
For more information about ALFs and COVID-19, check out my September 2, 2020 blog.