Today the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began distributing nearly $4.9 billion in additional relief funds to skilled nursing facilities (SNF) to help them combat the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. A state-by-state breakdown of amounts paid is available. During this public health crisis, nursing homes face unique challenges as their population of high-risk seniors are more vulnerable to respiratory pathogens like COVID-19. This funding supplements previously announced provider relief funds, and can be used to help nursing homes suffering from significant expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement, “The Trump Administration is providing every resource we can, from funding and direct personal protection equipment shipments to regulatory flexibility and infection control consultations, to protect seniors in nursing homes and those who care for them.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the viability of SNFs in a variety of ways. Since the beginning of 2020, SNFs have experienced up to a 6 percent decline in their patient population as current and potential residents choose other care settings, or as current residents pass away. In addition to nursing home residents, many SNF employees also have been diagnosed with COVID-19. These additional funds may help nursing homes address critical needs such as labor, scaling up their testing capacity, acquiring personal protective equipment, and a range of other expenses directly linked to this pandemic.
HHS is distributing relief funds to SNFs based on both a fixed basis and variable basis. Each SNF will receive a fixed distribution of $50,000, plus a distribution of $2,500 per bed. All certified SNFs with six or more certified beds are eligible for this targeted distribution. Nursing home recipients must attest that they will only use Provider Relief Fund payments for permissible purposes, as set forth in the Terms and Conditions, and agree to comply with future government audit and reporting requirements.
There is Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for nursing home safety and preparedness and a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services toolkit to help nursing homes prevent the spread of COVID-19. For questions, please contact Jolene Calla, Esq., HAP’s vice president of health care finance and insurance.
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