The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) on Dec. 21 said the pending COVID-19 relief package that congressional leaders reached a deal on this weekend was a disappointment to the long term and post-acute care profession.

Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of AHCA/NCAL, said, “While we appreciate the difficulty in reaching a bipartisan compromise, we are disappointed that Congress could not strike a deal that recognizes the dire situation our long term care residents and staff are facing right now.”

He said due to soaring community spread, nursing homes are experiencing a record-breaking number of cases and deaths, even worse than the spring. “Even with a vaccine on its way, it will likely take months to fully vaccinate our residents and staff, as well as the remaining public. Facilities will not be able to return to normal for some time, meaning providers need ongoing support with personal protective equipment, testing, and staffing,” Parkinson said.

Meanwhile, he added, 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 the pending legislation are minimal.

“Hundreds of facilities are in danger of closing their doors permanently and uprooting the frail seniors they care for. Congress must do more in the new year by directing specific aid to long term care. We owe it to our nation’s seniors and our health care heroes,” Parkinson said.