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Lancaster County nursing homes will get $100K to $1.18M in new federal COVID-19 funds

Intelligencer Journal - 5/23/2020

Pennsylvania nursing homes will receive nearly $238 million "to help them combat the devastating effects of this pandemic," the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced Friday.

The announcement said each home will receive $50,000, plus $2,500 per bed. Lancaster County has 32 nursing homes, ranging in size from 20 beds to 453 beds. Under that formula, the smallest and largest homes here will receive $100,000 and $1.18 million, respectively.

Adam Marles, president and CEO of industry association LeadingAge PA, wrote in an email that while they're grateful for the funds, members have borne extraordinary costs for personal protective equipment, staffing, testing, cleaning, disinfecting and loss of revenues, "so it will only help address a portion of the growing financial strains on our membership as the pandemic continues."

He noted that Presbyterian Senior Living reported that in the month of April alone it spent $500,000 personal protective equipment "over and above what they typically have spent each of the past two years."

"With this context, we continue to urge the PA General Assembly to enact CARES ACT funding that can immediately be sent to long-term care facilities and help further defray these costs," he wrote.

"This is critical funding providers have been fighting for since the epidemic began," Pennsylvania Health Care Association president and CEO Zach Shamberg said in an email. "This will be immediately directed to our hardworking staff, PPE and testing needs, and other tools necessary to mitigate and contain the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, we’ll continue to work with state government to ensure funding is allocated to nursing homes, personal care homes and assisted living communities on the front lines of this epidemic."

Nationwide, the distribution will give homes nearly $4.9 billion from the $175 billion allotted for relief funds to hospitals and other health care providers in the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, the agency said.

Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, called the funding "an important step toward ensuring residents in long term care facilities receive the vital support needed."

But, he said, given the gravity of the situation, facilities "require additional support and funding from state and federal governments" to reduce spread of the virus.

"Notably, assisted living communities have yet to receive any direct aid, despite also serving vulnerable seniors," he said. "We need everyone around the country to rally around nursing homes and assisted living communities the same way they have around hospitals."

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