Harder Demands Feds Provide Unspent Coronavirus Funding to Nursing Homes
WASHINGTON – After the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) admitted it had not invested nearly $20 million in CARES funding to support state agencies, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) contacted the agency to demand they stop withholding aid. Nearly half of all Coronavirus fatalities across the country have occurred at nursing homes. In Rep. Harder’s district, two skilled elder care facilities have seen outbreaks which have resulted in deaths of their residents. The unspent funding from CMS was set aside by Congress to support state agencies' response to outbreaks at nursing homes. Although the CARES Act was signed into law more than three months ago and deaths continue to increase, CMS has only provided $81 million of the $100 million Congress earmarked for state nursing home aid.
“Older people in nursing homes are at much higher risk of Coronavirus – they’re in close quarters, many have preexisting conditions, and age itself is a risk factor – this isn’t news, but the agency responsible for helping out has been asleep at the wheel,” said Rep. Harder. “We need CMS to get its act together and provide the rest of the funding we set aside on a bipartisan basis to help protect our seniors. Our Valley families need this money now.”
Representative Harder is a leader in efforts to protect nursing home residents and staff during the Coronavirus Pandemic. In early May, after CMS announced it would form a task force which would not meet until June, Harder demanded faster action and a better response from the agency. He also recently introduced the Nursing Home Pandemic Safety Act, which would guarantee universal testing for all nursing home residents and staff. He also has pushed CMS to properly regulate nursing homes after a report revealed that 82 percent of nursing homes lacked proper infection protocol – even before the start of the pandemic.
The text of the letter is below and an original copy is available here.
It has come to my attention that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been slow to issue Congressional funds to state and local governments who desperately need and are counting on this aid. Given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our nation’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities, I urge you to immediately issue those funds without further delay.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) appropriated $100 million for CMS to identify and support nursing challenges amidst the pandemic. Out of this funding, only $81 million is currently earmarked towards state agencies and, as of early June, almost none of these funds have been issued. It is concerning that while Americans are dying, CMS is sitting on much-needed federal aid that can help nursing homes develop solutions to address their challenges.
Deaths in nursing homes account for almost 40 percent of all U.S deaths from COVID-19. In my own district, they’ve accounted for half. The data speaks for itself. We know where the problem is so why are you not issuing this federal aid?
It is imperative that we protect our seniors and prioritize swift action to save lives. I look forward to your timely response.