Spanberger leads effort urging HHS to distribute funding to long-term care facilities
Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va. is leading an effort calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to release billions of dollars in funding to long-term care facilities after repeated delays, as well as to provide answers to Congress about the reasons and decision-making behind these delays.
Nursing home residents are at high risk of infection and death from COVID-19. Currently, there have been more than 7,700 outbreaks at nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the country since the pandemic began, including more than 160 in Virginia alone. In Central Virginia, one facility in Spanberger’s district—Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center—has accounted for 51 COVID-19-related deaths, the highest death toll at a long-term care facility in the United States.
In their letter, Spanberger and 18 of her colleagues called on HHS Secretary Alex Azar to respond to this crisis by immediately releasing billions of dollars in federal funding already approved by Congress and signed into law by President Trump. Together, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act provided $175 billion for healthcare providers that provide diagnoses, testing, or care for individuals with COVID-19.
However, U.S. long-term care facilities have only received about $3 billion in federal assistance since these bills were signed into law.
“We urge you to release PHSS funds appropriated by the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection and Health Care Enhancement Act to long-term care facilities as soon as possible,” said Spanberger and her colleagues. “Additional financial support is essential to protecting the vulnerable populations these facilities serve.”
“This is an unprecedented health crisis requiring significant funding to protect residents and caregivers,” said Keith Hare, President & CEO, Virginia Health Care Association – Virginia Center for Assisted Living. We’re grateful for the efforts of Rep. Spanberger and other Members of Congress who recognize this need and support this funding which is so vital to our efforts to help long term care residents recover from COVID-19.”
In the letter to Secretary Azar, Spanberger and her colleagues also called for HHS to brief Congress about the causes of unacceptable funding delays.
The letter continues, “We request a Congressional briefing from HHS about the reasons for the delay and an overview of the consultative process that informed any eventual distributive methodology for long-term care providers. We are deeply troubled and frustrated by the delays and the lack of clarity around the agency’s decision-making processes to date.