The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it is sending $5 billion to nursing homes and state veterans’ homes to fight the growing coronavirus epidemic.
The money can be used to hire additional staff, implement infection control, increase testing and provide additional services, such as technology to allow residents to connect with their families.
The infusion comes from the provider relief fund contained in the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package that the US Congress passed in late March. It’s in addition to the $4.9 billion nursing homes are receiving to offset revenue losses and to respond to the pandemic.
Nursing home staff must complete an online training program for a facility to receive the new funds.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will also start requiring nursing homes in states with a 5% or greater coronavirus positivity rate to test all staff each week. This was previously a recommendation.
The administration announced last week that it is distributing rapid testing devices to nursing homes, which had complained that they don’t have the money to conduct so many tests. More than 15,000 devices will be deployed in coming months, with more than 600 shipping this week.
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) said Wednesday that the increased funds are “a significant step forward,” but more is needed, especially in light of the surge of cases around the country.
“It is equally important for Congress to provide an additional $100 billion for the HHS Provider Relief Fund, which is accessible to all health care providers impacted by COVID-19,” said CEO Mark Parkinson.