Washington, D.C. – Earlier this month, the Trump administration doubled down on their commitment to seniors living in nursing home facilities by providing roughly $5 billion in funding from the Provider Relief Fund for nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The Provider Relief Fund was established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This new funding – $2.5 billion upfront to help with testing, staffing and personal protective equipment (PPE) – will help protect seniors from COVID-19. Perhaps most importantly, funding will be made available for facilities that are investing in COVID-19 isolation wards – something we know is necessary to keep other vulnerable residents safe.
The remaining $2.5 billion will be awarded based on facility performance. According to data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), nearly 40 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the United States have been nursing-home-related. By tying funding to facility performance, the administration is incentivizing facilities to make smart, strategic decisions regarding the health and well-being of their residents – even in states where governors have failed to protect their most vulnerable citizens.
We know now that many states – states like New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan to name a few – made deadly mistakes by forcing COVID-19 patients back into congregate living environments with large numbers of high-risk residents. A new independent report funded by the state of Connecticut found that Governor Lamont’s emergency-response plan completely failed nursing home and long-term care facility residents by not providing adequate PPE, relying on faxes to monitor outbreaks in nursing homes, and failing to hire necessary staff for the Connecticut Office of Public Health and Preparedness and Response, leaving critical positions vacant as late as July. In New York, we’ve seen Governor Cuomo place blame on nursing home employees on the front lines of the pandemic rather than accept responsibility for his actions. Sadly, it seems the governor is more concerned with his victory lap book deal and prime time speaking engagements than correcting course and providing answers to New York’s seniors and their families. Because of his lack of transparency, we still don’t know the full toll of his mistakes
While some Democrat Governors across the country continue to point fingers instead of owning their failure to protect their most vulnerable citizens during a global pandemic, the Trump administration is sending resources to the front lines to support nursing home and long-term care facilities. These facilities – and their employees – deserve support, not to be blamed in order to protect the political futures of the leaders who failed them.