To Protect Nursing Home Residents & Staff, Rep. Katko Leads NY GOP in Urging Additional Funds for New York Adult Care Facilities

August 3, 2020
Press Release

SYRACUSE, NY— U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24) led Republicans from New York’s Congressional Delegation in urging additional funds for New York nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Rep. Katko was joined by U.S. Reps. Lee Zeldin (NY-1), Pete King (NY-2), Elise M. Stefanik (NY-21), and Tom Reed (NY-23) in this effort.

Although New York initially released shifting and unclear guidance for nursing home patients and staff, the State now requires all personnel and residents be tested twice per week. While vital to the health of staff and residents, frequent testing requirements have put an immense financial strain on many local nursing homes and adult care facilities, which already face tremendous budget shortfalls due to the pandemic. For Loretto, one of the largest providers of older adult services in Central New York, the testing requirements are predicted to cost nearly $2 million.

To support struggling healthcare providers during the pandemic, in March, Rep. Katko supported passage of the CARES Act, bipartisan legislation that established the Provider Relief Fund (PRF). While the PRF delivered nearly $349 million in initial support to nursing home facilities in New York State, it excluded assisted living and other adult care facilities, which care for thousands of Central New York seniors. Additionally, with expanded testing requirements now in place, these funds are a mere fraction of the support needed to equip facilities with sufficient testing supplies, PPE, and other resources necessary to keep nursing home staff and residents safe during the pandemic. In light of the tragic number of COVID-19 deaths in New York State adult care facilities, Rep. Katko led his colleagues in calling on Congressional Leaders to include additional funds in future COVID-19 relief legislation for skilled nursing homes and assisted living facilities. 

“To protect the health and safety of Central New York nursing home residents and providers, I’m leading an effort to urge Congressional Leaders to provide additional funding for local skilled nursing homes and assisted living facilities,” said Rep. Katko. “While New York State initially released shifting and unclear testing requirements for nursing home patients and staff, the State now requires all personnel and residents to be tested twice per week. Although frequent testing is vital to create a safe environment, it also puts an immense financial strain on facilities like Loretto, which predicts this directive will cost nearly $2 million in unplanned expenditures. That’s why, we must build on the CARES Act and provide local adult care facilities with the funds they need to purchase COVID-19 testing, PPE, and other protective resources that keep residents and staff safe during the pandemic.” 

“This pandemic has had a devastating impact on the long term care industry. In addition to escalating costs for PPE, mandatory testing of employees will have an unplanned impact of close to $2 million to Loretto’s bottom line,” said Dr. Kimberly Townsend, president and CEO of Loretto. “Unlike hospitals who may recoup revenue through elective surgeries; this pandemic could mean extinction for many of us without emergency funding given our razor thin margin non-profit business. So I want to thank Congressman John Katko for his understanding of, and support for, the skilled nursing segment of the healthcare continuum.”

With over 6,000 nursing home deaths in New York State adult care facilities, Rep. Katko has urged the New York State Attorney General as well as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to launch an independent review of the State’s devastating nursing home policy.

The full text of the request can be found below:

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, and Leader Schumer:

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread throughout the nation, our country’s seniors are severely at risk.  Seniors are significantly more likely to experience infection and serious complications as a result of COVID-19.  Nursing homes and adult care facilities nationwide have been hit the hardest by the pandemic, jeopardizing the health and safety of their residents and staff.

In an attempt to limit the spread of the virus in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued guidance that recommends weekly testing for all nursing home personnel and residents.  Although New York initially released shifting and unclear guidance for nursing home patients and staff, the State now requires all personnel and residents of nursing homes and adult care facilities, including assisted living facilities, be tested twice per week. While critical to the health of staff and residents, frequent testing requirements have put an immense financial strain on nursing homes and adult care facilities that are already facing tremendous budget shortfalls due to the pandemic.

While Congress took initial steps to provide relief to some of these facilities, the funding was a mere fraction of the support needed to ensure that senior citizens remain safe and healthy during this pandemic.  The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act established the Provider Relief Fund (PRF), which includes $4.9 billion in funding for skilled nursing facilities.  At this time, $394 million of this funding has been allocated to New York State skilled nursing facilities.  While we applaud the initial relief efforts of the CARES Act, the PRF does not provide sufficient funding for skilled nursing facilities and leaves assisted living and other adult care facilities out entirely.  In light of the tragic number of COVID-19 deaths in our nation’s nursing and assisted living facilities, we must do more. 

To protect the health of our nation’s senior citizens and health professionals, we urge you to include significant funding for all adult care facilities, including skilled nursing homes and assisted living facilities, in any future COVID-19 legislation.  

Thank you for your consideration and attention to this matter.
 

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