Yesterday evening President Trump announced an additional $5 billion in funding for skilled nursing facilities out of the remaining $60 billion in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Provider Relief fund to fight the coronavirus. Yesterday, CMS Administrator Verma called me and we had a good discussion about the additional funding.
The announcement is part of the Administration’s efforts to support our work in facilities. Additionally, it advances the Administration’s desire for an immediate increase in testing in facilities. Very soon, CMS will propose a rule to require testing of staff on a weekly basis for facilities in states with a 5% or greater positivity rate. Part of the $5 billion will cover the cost of this testing.
CMS and HHS are still working on the methodology for distribution of the rest of the $5 billion, and both are asking us for input. They have made clear to us that their priorities are testing, funding for staffing costs and to address facilities in COVID-19 hotspots.
This is good news for our sector. With just $60 billion left in the fund, to know that at least $5 billion is reserved for us is significant. As cases have exploded across the country, and hospitals have reached capacity, I’ve lost sleep worrying about our fate with what is left. We now know that we will get at least $5 billion.
What we also know is that we must continue all of our current lobbying efforts. THIS DOES NOT REPLACE OUR COVID HOTSPOT ASK. We’ve already had discussions with HHS officials and believe that we can continue with that ask. It also does not replace any of the important asks that we have in stimulus 4.0. Please continue to make calls on both.
In short, our efforts to protect the patients we serve continue to work. The battles in your facilities and in DC continue and we are completely focused on continuing to win.