More than one-third of all people who have died from COVID-19 have been nursing home residents, although residents account for less than .05% of the country’s population. During the pandemic, the federal government waived many longstanding resident protections and facility reporting requirements. Accountability and oversight were severely limited, as CMS waived virtually all standard and complaint surveys and barred long-term care ombudsmen and families from visiting.
What also changed during the pandemic was the large influx of public funds provided to facilities. During the coronavirus pandemic, nursing homes have received billions of dollars and non-monetary support from all levels of government in addition to reimbursement for care through the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The Federal Government has given, or in some cases, loaned facilities (with many loans forgiven) hundreds of millions of additional dollars through multiple programs. Most of these federal payments have been made without regard to facilities’ performance. Many states have also increased Medicaid rates across-the-board or paid higher rates for COVID-19-positive residents or established COVID-19-only facilities and paid them high rates. In addition, the Federal and State Governments have provided indirect financial support to nursing facilities, supplying personal protective equipment, tests and testing equipment, multiple training opportunities, the National Guard, and “strike teams” to help facilities in crisis situations during the pandemic.
The Center for Medicare Advocacy has released a report – Nursing Facilities Have Received Billions of Dollars in Direct Financial and Non-Financial Support During Coronavirus Pandemic – that identifies the primary sources of financial aid given to facilities and concerns that have been raised about COVID funding for poor performing facilities.
Our on-going concern is quality care for residents. Public funding should be spent on increased, quality care and staffing.
- Read the full report at: https://medicareadvocacy.org/report-snf-financial-support-during-covid/
 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1.3 million people lived in nursing facilities in 2015. CDC, National Center for Health Statistics, Nursing Home Care, https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/nursing-home-care.htm. The U.S. Census Bureau projected that the country’s population on January 1, 2016 would be 322,762,018. U.S. Census Bureau, “Census Bureau Projects U.S. and World Populations on New Year’s Day” (Dec. 30, 2015), https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2015/cb15-tps113.html
 CMS, “COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers” (as of Feb. 19, 2021), https://www.cms.gov/files/document/summary-covid-19-emergency-declaration-waivers.pdf (Skilled nursing facility waivers are at pp. 16-21
 CMS, “Prioritization of Survey Activities,” QSO020-20-ALL (updated 9/28/2020), https://www.cms.gov/files/document/qso-20-20-all.pdf