Long-term care associations unhappy with most recent pandemic relief

$3 billion in funding was added to PRF. Long term care associations say that's only a drop in the bucket compared to what's needed.

JOPLIN, Mo. -“We need to be mindful of who’s at the forefront of protecting seniors, which is senior living. Yet, Congress ignored the needs of our industry,” says Stephanie Harris, CEO of Arrow Senior Living.

At the end of December, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, a which includes $900 billion in COVID-19 relief funding.

Part of that $900 billion is $3 billion dollars for the Provider Relief Fund – a program that was created to help healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic, which includes long-term care facilities.

But Stephanie Harris, CEO of Arrow Senior Living, which owns The Wildwood Senior living in Joplin, says $3 billion is only a drop in the bucket.

“Not many communities can continue to weather this storm financially,” says Harris. “These extra complications between the testing, between the job openings, between the additional PPE requirements for infection control.”

Several national assisted living associations have said the same thing in the week since the bill was signed – and continue to push for additional funding.

“In addition to the package not including the liability protection the industry desperately needs, the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) grew by only $3 billion, a shocking decline from earlier reports of an additional $35 billion,” says American Senior Housing Association president David Schless.

“Nearly two-thirds of long term care facilities are operating at a loss, and the additional funds slated for the Provider Relief Fund for all heath care providers in this legislation are minimal,” says Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living. “Hundreds of facilities are in danger of closing their doors permanently and uprooting the frail seniors they care for.”

Harris says that Arrow Senior Living has been able to weather the storm – and that the state of Missouri has been a big help, especially in acquiring PPE.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t need more support.

“We’re gonna continue to have rising costs tied to testing, infection control, and job openings,” says Harris. “We need the relief that’s beginning to address the pains that we’re meeting and the needs every single day in our communities.”