Rewards for Nursing Home Industry

Another Bailout

The Department of Health and Human Services announced that another $1.1 billion in COVID-19 relief funding will go to the nursing home industry.  The payments will be distributed immediately and will continue through January 2021. HHS said the additional $1.1 billion for nursing homes builds on the incentive payment program. This is on top of the more than $15 billion in aggregate funding already distributed to providers.

The funding is part of a newly revised plan to distribute over $24.5 billion in Phase 3 funding from the Provider Relief Fund. The payments go to more than 70,000 healthcare providers. That figure is up from the $20 billion that originally was planned for Phase 3.

McKnight’s previously reported that Trump distributed $523 million to the nursing home industry in Phase 2. That bailout went to over 9,000 nursing homes. The funds were a “reward” for allegedly “reducing” COVID-19 related infections and deaths. Of course, deaths have remained consistent the last 6 months. However, HHS found that 69% of the eligible facilities met the infection control criteria for the incentive program, while 68% met the mortality criteria. Do they also need legal immunity for gross negligence and wrongful preventable  deaths?

“This half a billion dollars in incentive payments will reward nursing homes that have shown results in their tireless work to keep their residents safe from the virus,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar added.

The federal government distributed about $333 million in performance payments to more than 10,000 nursing homes during Phase 1.

The money should go to require safe staffing and testing. Testing everyone as they come into a nursing home – both staff and visitors – would prevent deaths. Provider Relief Fund has five evaluation cycles for the incentive program.

Vaccine Priority

Staffing has long been a problem at nursing homes, with high turnover common. Perhaps, the promise of vaccination will help. Most states have also pledged that the initial doses of the coronavirus vaccine would go to long-term care facilities first.

“As we approach the rollout of safe and effective vaccines for our most vulnerable, we continue the innovative program we created this year to incentivize and assist nursing homes in battling COVID-19 and applying the right infection control practices,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

The “innovative program” consisted of throwing money at the national chains without any accountability. Preventable deaths skyrocketed.

“With about 3 million doses on the way, this means that healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities across America will begin receiving vaccines in the coming days,” Azar said. 

Promises, promises. We shall see. Azar also told CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday that most residents should be vaccinated by Christmas.  Luckily, CVS Health and Walgreens have agreed to administer the vaccines free of charge to long-term care facilities. More than 99% of skilled nursing facilities have signed up for the program.

All this is not enough, the failed industry also demands legal immunity for their neglect and abuse during the pandemic. Incredible.

At least 106,000 residents and staff of long-term care facilities have died from the virus, accounting for 38 percent of the country’s Covid-related fatalities.