“I think the country needs one last boost,” says McConnell
SpecialtyRx explores the latest relief bill and its LTC impact
As the Senate enjoys a 15-day summer recess, long-term care providers wait anxiously for news of a proposed bill targeting lawsuit protections and stimulus checks for low-wage frontline workers. If passed, the bill will be the fourth (and perhaps final) federal stimulus.
Clif Porter of the AHCA predicts that long-term care lobbyists will also push for payback extensions on recent Medicare advances. In the early stages of COVID-19, CMS established their Accelerated and Advance Payment (AAP) programs to ensure healthcare providers had adequate resources to combat the novel coronavirus. Unlike a grant, these funds must be repaid within a year or less, depending on provider type.
As of April 26th, the program ceased accepting applications. Needy facilities and their suppliers are now encouraged to seek emergency funding, paycheck protection, and other aid through the Provider Relief Fund.
New bill, new breaks
Washington insiders say Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) hopes to have a detailed relief package ready to unveil when the Senate returns on July 20th.
Workers making less than $19 an hour (or less than $40,000 a year) are likely to receive some kind of stimulus payment as part of the legislation. Of course, this includes many of our frontline heroes working in nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and other senior care settings. The proposal will also address liability protection for LTC operators.
“This is not just for businesses,” says the Senate Majority Leader. “This is for hospitals, doctors, nurses, nonprofits, universities, colleges, K-12, so that people who acted in good faith during the crisis are not confronted with a second epidemic of lawsuits in the wake of a pandemic that we’re already struggling with.”
Industry advocates are also backing assisted living facilities and ancillary services such as imaging labs, who have yet to see any federal aid. “We have the same PPE costs, and in some cases, those companies are burning through PPE a little faster,” said Cynthia Morton of the NASLTC. When asked about her hopes for the bill, she also mentioned screening costs. “Testing for residents has been paid for by CMS…but testing for staff is murkier.”
When Congress reconvenes in late July, SpecialtyRx hopes for a speedy resolution to the stimulus struggle. Across party lines, legislators seem to agree that another relief package is inevitable, especially with a historic election looming.