The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) is seeking $5 billion from the federal government to aid assisted living communities as they grapple with Covid-19.
The industry association asked the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) for the funding relief to help support the senior living industry’s outsized testing, supply and staffing needs as the pandemic drags on. The organization also asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for help procuring protective personal equipment (PPE).
AHCA/NCAL estimates that there are about 42,000 assisted living communities in the U.S., which in total serve about a million residents. To date, those providers have not received any direct federal funding, PPE or prioritization for testing, outside of some “minimal state support,” the organization noted. That stands in contrast to the level of assistance the skilled nursing industry has received since the outset of the pandemic.
“Given the gravity of the situation we are facing with this deadly virus and its impact on our vulnerable community, which cannot be overstated, long-term care facilities, including assisted living communities, require essential funding and support from federal and state governments to reduce and prevent the spread of Covid-19,” reads a June 8 letter signed by Mark Parkinson, the organization’s president and CEO; and Scott Tittle, its executive director.
The organization specifically asked for assistance in three areas: $5 billion in assistance to help with every assisted living community’s staffing, testing and PPE expenses; expedited shipments of PPE similar to what nursing homes have already received along with help procuring it; and new guidance and help for states to prioritize assisted living communities for Covid-19 testing.
This is not the first time AHCA/NCAL has asked the federal government for monetary help with Covid-19. In early May, the organization asked HHS and FEMA for $10 billion in emergency funding to aid both nursing homes and assisted living communities, with similar concerns. Weeks later, HHS announced $4.9 billion in funding to help skilled nursing facilities respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
And, AHCA/NCAL is among a chorus of industry voices which has said the federal government must do more to aid senior living providers amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“What we need now is to rally around assisted living communities like the country is now doing for nursing homes, and in the same way the public health sector has around hospitals,” the letter reads. “With a vulnerable population much like nursing homes, assisted living communities will not be able to overcome this unprecedented health crisis and protect our residents and caregivers without adequate funding and resources.”