(WFRV) – Only one-quarter of nursing homes are confident they will make it through to next year due to the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent survey released.
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), which represents more than 14,000 nursing homes, assisted living communities, and other long-term care facilities across the country, released the survey’s findings indicating that a majority of nursing homes and nearly half of assisted living communities are currently operating at a loss.
“Even though COVID cases in long-term care are at historic lows, providers are struggling to recover from the economic crisis the pandemic has induced. Too many facilities are operating under shoestring budgets simply because policymakers have failed to dedicate the proper resources, and this can have devastating consequences,” said Mark Parkinson, president, and CEO of the (AHCA/NCAL).
The survey, which examined 616 nursing homes and 122 assisted living communities across the U.S., found that nearly half of nursing homes and assisted living communities have had to make cuts in 2021 due to increased expenses or lost revenue. AHCA/NCAL officials note that most of these increased expenses were due to the COVID-19 pandemic as they involved additional pay for staff, hiring additional staff, and increasing personal protective equipment (PPE).
The survey further revealed that more than half of nursing homes and more than one-third of assisted living communities say that Medicaid fee-for-service is problematic in covering the actual cost to provide care to residents, which both providers say is a ‘serious problem.’
While these facilities continue to face the ripple effects of the pandemic, government-funded resources have been made available to help in their battle to keep their facilities open. According to the survey, ninety-two percent of nursing homes and 62 percent of assisted living facilities reported that the Provider Relief Fund has been helpful during COVID.
“Lawmakers and public officials across the country must prioritize the residents and caregivers in our nursing homes and assisted living communities,” continued Parkinson. “This starts by sending immediate resources through what remains of the Provider Relief Fund, and it continues by finally addressing the chronic underfunding of Medicaid, which only covers 70 to 80 percent of nursing home care. We have laid out key proposals in our Care For Our Seniors Act to transform America’s nursing homes, but without the help from Congress and state legislators, these necessary reforms will not be possible.”
While the future of nursing homes and assisted care facilities remain uncertain, the AHCA/NCAL remains optimistic. “We look forward to working with federal and state governments to ensure the stability of our care economy so that every provider has the ability to deliver the highest quality of care. From being able to have an adequate supply of PPE to compensating caregivers for their heroic work, long-term care facilities need financial assistance from lawmakers to keep serving our vulnerable residents,” concluded Parkinson.