ASHA: Federal Financial Support Coming Soon for Private-Pay Assisted Living Providers

Long-awaited federal financial support for assisted living providers is on the way, according to the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA).

Private-pay assisted living providers will have access “very soon” to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Provider Relief Fund, an HHS official told ASHA leadership on a call Wednesday.

The overall dollar amount being allocated to assisted living has not yet been disclosed, according to an update that ASHA sent to members on Thursday. However, the formula will be 2% of 2019 gross revenue, according to ASHA, in keeping with how HHS has distributed funds to other types of health care organizations, such as Medicaid providers and children’s hospitals.

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HHS also informed ASHA that additional funds, beyond the 2% of gross revenue allocation, will be announced within the month, the organization indicated in its update.

HHS did not respond on Thursday to a request for comment from Senior Housing News.

ASHA and Argentum previously have called for $10 billion to be allocated to senior living from the Provider Relief Fund.

The pandemic has taken a steep financial toll on assisted living and other private-pay senior housing operators since mid-March, when Covid-19 first reached U.S. shores. In fact, 26% of assisted living providers surveyed by the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) said they can sustain operations only for another six months under current conditions, according to findings released earlier this week.

Senior living providers have been clamoring for financial aid from the federal government, with ASHA and other industry groups pushing lawmakers and policymakers hard. Massive stimulus packages have allocated funds to health care providers, but this money has gone first to settings where Medicare and Medicaid are the primary sources of revenue. About $10 billion has been designated for skilled nursing facilities, for instance.

Meanwhile, senior living providers have had access to relatively little federal relief. Smaller organizations were able to receive money from the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), with at least $252 million in small PPP loans flowing into the industry.

But this support barely scratches the surface in terms of offsetting the pandemic’s huge financial hit to senior living providers, industry advocates have argued. Covid-19 has the potential to cause an adverse economic impact of up to $57 million within 12 months, according to a third-party analysis that ASHA and Argentum released in April.

And distress has already come, particularly for smaller providers and those that were less financially secure prior to the pandemic.

Congress has been locked in a stalemate over the next round of pandemic relief, with Senate Republicans most recently proposing a “skinny” bill. Industry group LeadingAge lambasted that measure this week, criticizing its lack of financial support for senior housing and care providers.

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