The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) on March 25 said a small percentage of nursing homes are owned by private-equity firms and that pointing at ownership structure when considering the quality of care being provided at facilities misses the larger picture.

The statement came after the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee’s hearing, “Examining Private Equity’s Expanded Role in the U.S. Health Care System.”

Mark Parkinson, AHCA/NCAL president and chief executive officer, said, “Ninety-five percent of nursing homes in the United States were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and less than 10 percent of total nursing homes are owned by private-equity firms. There are many factors that affect the quality of care in nursing homes, and focusing solely on ownership structure will not achieve better outcomes for residents and staff.”

He said in order to continue improving the overall quality of care, “We must work toward solutions that increase our nation’s investment in our long term care facilities and incentivize providers to generate great outcomes. That’s why AHCA and LeadingAge have proposed the Care For Our Seniors Act, a package of reform proposals that will address long-standing challenges within our industry and usher in a stronger long term care system.”

Parkinson said the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated systemic issues that the long term care industry has been calling attention to for years, such as widespread workforce shortages and chronic Medicaid underfunding.

“The financial crisis nursing home providers are facing has left many struggling to keep their doors open and restricts them from being able to attract more workers, make enhancements to care delivery, or modernize their structures,” he said.

“That is why a small number of providers have sought the help of private investors when they can barely stay afloat.”

Parkinson said as the profession begins to turn a corner in its fight against the pandemic, “We now have an opportunity to create a brighter future for our seniors. We must apply the lessons we have learned from the past year to make substantive reform in our industry.

“We stand ready to work collaboratively with lawmakers to find solutions that will ensure our current residents and future residents have access to quality long term care options.”