Nursing Homes Ask HHS To Distribute Remaining Provider Relief ASAP

Inside Health Policy

July 15, 2021 12:11 pm

Nursing homes want HHS to release the estimated $24 billion in unallocated provider relief soon and allocate $10 billion specifically for nursing homes, estimating nearly 2,000 facilities are at risk of closing over the course of the pandemic.

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living warned of possible closures over a month ago when it asked for more provider relief and joined other advocates to ask HHS to extend the provider relief spending deadline beyond June 30. Nursing homes also drummed up support from 50 lawmakers, who on June 4 asked HHS to dedicate $10 billion in provider relief for long-term care facilities.

HHS stopped short of giving a complete extension on June 11 and instead tied the spending deadline to when providers received relief, giving each recipient one year to spend all their relief.

AHCA renewed its call in a press release Monday (July 12) for HHS to quickly distribute the remaining provider relief.

The last provider relief distribution was announced in October, and HHS is still making distributions to providers — sometimes months after they applied. Some experts see the existence of a fourth reporting period as proof that there will be another provider relief distribution. In December, Congress directed HHS to consider provider losses and expenses through March 2021 when determining the next distributions.

“While overall the situation has improved, this battle with the virus is not over, and now we face a new battle. Our sluggish economic recovery puts thousands of facilities in danger of closing, threatening access to long term care for vulnerable seniors and individuals with disabilities,” Mark Parkinson, AHCA president and CEO, said in the press release Monday.

AHCA found in a recent survey of members that only 24% of long-term care facilities are confident they can stay afloat until next year. Nursing homes say on top of long-standing Medicaid underfunding, they’re dealing with increased costs and reduced revenue.

The American Hospital Association has also asked HHS to quickly distribute the remaining provider relief. Hospitals also are concerned, according to a letter to Senate leadership on June 29 that Congress might try to use outstanding provider relief and an extension of the Medicare sequester to offset the bipartisan infrastructure deal’s costs. Hospitals again raised concerns about a possible sequester extension in a letter this week.

The administration and Congress have yet to announce whether they plan to use provider relief or the Medicare sequester to pay for the final bipartisan infrastructure bill, though both were listed in an earlier document on the bipartisan deal. — Dorothy Mills-Gregg (