Spanberger: HHS Nursing Home Funding Announcement Step in Right Direction, But “Not Nearly Enough” to Address COVID-19 Crisis in Long-Term Care Facilities

Last Week, the Congresswoman Pressed HHS to Release Billions in Funding to Long-Term Care Facilities After Repeated Delays

HENRICO, V.A. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced nearly $4.9 billion to be distributed to nursing homes and long-term care facilities impacted by COVID-19.

Last week, Spanberger led a multi-Member effort calling on HHS to release billions of dollars in funding to long-term care facilities after repeated delays, as well as to provide answers to Congress about the reasons and decision-making behind these delays.

“For weeks, I’ve called on HHS to expedite the process of delivering congressionally approved resources to our most vulnerable neighbors and the dedicated men and women who work around the clock to care for them. Today, I’m encouraged that HHS is finally recognizing the need to respond to the severity of this crisis in our nursing homes and assisted living facilities. However, this amount is still far short of the funding desperately requested by our long-term care facilities and their advocates,” said Spanberger. “This funding is not nearly enough to account for the COVID-19 testing, personal protective equipment, and staffing that will be needed in the weeks and months to come. Additionally, HHS’s funding methodology has excluded most assisted living facilities from receiving payments, which could leave behind thousands of Central Virginia residents and their families in a moment of extreme uncertainty. I look forward to HHS distributing this funding as soon as possible, but I’ll also keep pressing them to recognize the urgent needs of all long-term care residents and staff.”

“We are appreciative of the critical funding that has been provided to Virginia’s nursing homes from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund to protect residents and keep COVID-19 out of nursing homes. We are grateful for the efforts of Rep. Abigail Spanberger and the entire Virginia congressional delegation for this needed next step in supporting nursing home providers,” said Keith Hare, President & CEO, Virginia Health Care Association — Virginia Center for Assisted Living. “What we can’t forget is that assisted living providers who face the same challenges as nursing facilities in fighting this virus have not received any relief funding. We also know that there is a need for additional support for those facilities that have been hardest hit by this virus.”

Currently, there have been more than 7,700 outbreaks at nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the country since the pandemic began, including more than 180 in Virginia alone. In Central Virginia, one facility in Spanberger’s district—Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center—has accounted for 51 COVID-19-related deaths, the highest death toll at a long-term care facility in the United States.

Last month, Spanberger led a bipartisan group of Virginia Members in urging HHS to swiftly distribute a minimum of $25 billion in federal funding to nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Virginia and across the country. And earlier this week, Spanberger pressed White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci on the administration’s strategy to fulfill testing and other needs in Central Virginia’s long-term care facilities.

BACKGROUND

Spanberger’s letter builds on her ongoing efforts to provide federal assistance to residents and staff amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at Virginia nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Last month, Spanberger led a bipartisan effort urging U.S. House and U.S. Senate leadership in both parties to include emergency funding for nursing home and long-term care facilities in the next iteration of COVID-19 legislation.

And in March, Spanberger and U.S. Representative Denver Riggleman (R-VA-05) pressed HHS to use its authorities under the Defense Production Act to provide immediate, additional supplies of personal protective equipment to impacted nursing homes and long-term care centers.

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