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 New White House Plan to Bolster LTC Coronavirus Battle Wins AHCA/NCAL Support

President Trump unveiled new measures in a White House briefing on Thursday aimed at bolstering the federal government’s efforts to aid long term care facilities in their battle against the COVID-19 pandemic by directing more personal protective equipment (PPE) to facilities, increasing virus testing for residents and staff, and generally raising the profile of nursing facility residents in what the president said is a sustained program to “do right” by the nation’s seniors.    

The plan by Trump and his health care team, including Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), won the support of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).

“Today’s announcement sends a clear message about the important role of long term care in the national health care system and our response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of AHCA/NCAL.

Among a host of steps outlined by Trump, one is to convene a new commission in May to tackle how best to protect and managed the COVID-19 outbreak in America’s nursing facilities. The Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes will be composed of leading industry experts, doctors and scientists, resident and patient advocates, family members, infection and prevention control specialists, and state and local authorities, the president said.

“We appreciate the commission and plan of action announced today by the Trump administration as an important step forward to ensure long term care facilities receive the vital support needed during this unprecedented public health crisis,” Parkinson said. “The plan detailed today builds on the work announced earlier this week by Vice President Pence to expedite direct shipment of PPE to more than 15,000 nursing homes around the country.”

He said in addition, Monday’s announcement from the administration that long term care residents and staff with symptoms are now a high priority level for testing is another positive development for America’s nursing facilities and assisted living communities.

“The public health system’s focus on long term care residents and staff must not waver, Parkinson said. “Seniors and those with underlying conditions are susceptible to this virus. Therefore, long term care facilities will need more PPE, testing, and resources.”

He said AHCA/NCAL looks forward to working with the new commission to identify ways that the public and private sectors can support the needs of provider health care heroes and “ensure they have the additional resources needed to stem the tide of this pandemic among our residents.”

Parkinson said long term care facilities face an uphill battle in stopping the COVID-19 virus, and the profession appreciates the administration’s support in making long term care residents and caregivers a priority in keeping them safe.

“It is not too late to turn this difficult situation around. What we need now is for everyone to rally around nursing homes and assisted living communities the same way we have around hospitals,” he said.

“And that means continuing our focus on testing, PPE, staffing, and funding just as health care providers have received. We will continue to work with local, state, and federal health officials to ensure all possible actions are taken to keep our nation’s long term care residents safe.”

CMS also announced a new series of waivers and changes related to COVID-19, along with rule changes. See an outline at Additional Background:Sweeping Regulatory Changes to Help U.S. Healthcare System Address COVID-19 Patient Surge | CMS.

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