Unconscionable. Nonsensical. These are two words that Argentum President & CEO James Balda used to describe senior care providers being offered no additional relief under the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) that is currently being finalized by federal lawmakers. In particular, the assisted living segment has received little to no federal relief during the pandemic, despite being on the front lines in similar conditions to their skilled nursing counterparts.
As I write this, the House of Representatives has passed the bill, and it’s headed to the Senate, where it’s expected to move quickly. True to form, it didn’t take long for industry associations to speak out in disappointment and devise a plan.
Argentum, in conjunction with ASHA and AHCA/NCAL, has organized a grassroots effort in which they are asking providers, suppliers and partners to directly ask their state senators to correct this oversight. They’ve supplied pre-written templates and resources to make this outreach as easy and effective as possible. We asked OnShift employees to participate in this effort yesterday afternoon and were overwhelmed by the response.
If you have not yet, I urge you and your staff to get involved in this advocacy effort as it will take an all-hands-on-deck approach to make our voices heard. Argentum really has done all of the heavy lifting and it only takes a few minutes of your time to share this extremely powerful, important and urgent message. You can access the materials you need here, which are broken down for specific roles: Senior Care Advocates, Community Staff, Family Members and Residents.
LeadingAge has also created an easy way to conduct outreach, where you simply fill in a few pieces of information and send an auto-populated email to your respective state senators.
Either of these options for connecting with your legislators will help us collectively get our message out there. And, regardless of the outcome, it’s critical that everyone in the senior care space takes action now, and in the future, to secure the support needed.
In the event that our efforts fall on deaf ears, ACHA/NCAL President & CEO Mark Parkinson told McKnight’s Senior Living that the association is pursuing two alternatives for funding. First, they are asking that the $25 billion in unallocated Provider Relief Funds be used for support during this time, especially for senior living communities.
As for the second strategy, Parkinson told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, "We are really encouraging the state governments to take a really close look at the Medicaid situation in their states and provide assistance, not just to long-term care providers, but all providers that have been adversely affected by the recession caused as a result of the COVID crisis." He added, "We’re hopeful that the remaining money in the Provider Relief Fund as well as the additional funding that will be provided to the states will be an avenue of support."