Lawmakers want upcoming COVID-19 relief funds to prioritize nursing homes in states with high shares of resident deaths, cases

November 19, 2020

Several Democratic lawmakers are suggesting that long-term care facilities in areas that have higher shares of COVID-19 deaths and cases should be first in line to receive future federal relief funding. 

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Reps. Annie Kuster (D-NH) and Chris Pappas (D-NH) made the request in a letter sent to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar Tuesday.

"While we believe that it is important to reward quality improvement and performance on infection control in nursing homes, the current formula disadvantages nursing homes in states that have more effectively contained COVID-19 spread in the community but simultaneously have issues with COVID-19 infections and mortality in LTCFs [long-term care facilities]," they wrote. 

They explained that 66 facilities in New Hampshire received a total of $324,014 in performance-based payments, which were distributed in late October. That equated to just $4,909 per facility, which was the third-lowest per-facility rank in the country. The average per-facility payment nationwide was $24,777 in comparison.

The lawmakers also noted that 82% of deaths in the state have come from nursing facilities, which is the highest rate in the country. 

The lawmakers suggested that future rounds of funding could incorporate measures like the share of the state's total COVID-19 deaths attributable to nursing facility residents, the share of the state's total COVID-19 cases attributable to nursing facility residents and the level of COVID-19 nursing facility resident deaths per 1,000 nursing facility residents in the state. 

"Making these adjustments will ensure that we can more adequately support nursing facilities in New Hampshire and across the country," they concluded.

By:  Danielle Brown
Source: McKnight's