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Another Bailout Demand

Published on June 23rd, 2020

Incredible. After the nursing home industry was too greedy to be prepared to prevent or contain the spread of COVID-19 in their facilities, and refused to disclose the number of residents with coronovirus, the nursing home lobbyists are demanding Congress give them additional windfall including a dedicated $100 billion emergency fund for nursing homes.  The demand is a part of a new campaign, “Act For Older Adults,” launched by lobbyists to put pressure on politicians up for re-election.

The organization is also requesting that lawmakers do the nursing home’s job by providing supplies and appropriate personal protective equipment, accurate and rapid testing, funds to cover testing costs, “hero” pay, paid sick leave and healthcare coverage for frontline workers.

Meanwhile, an investigation into the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in nursing homes has started including demanding information from both the federal government and five prominent operators in the space. House committee’s probe focuses on five major nursing home operators: Genesis HealthCare (NYSE: GEN), The Ensign Group (Nasdaq: ENSG), Life Care Centers of America, Consulate Health Care, and SavaSeniorCare.

“We are writing to seek documents and information regarding the deaths of men and women in your company’s nursing homes during the coronavirus outbreak, the conditions that may have contributed to these deaths, and any steps taken to protect residents and workers from further tragedy,” each letter, addressed to each company’s CEO, reads in its introduction.

The subcommittee’s requests span 10 separate categories, from basic data on bed counts and resident demographics to the exact amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE) at each facility operated by the chains — along with estimates of when those supplies would be exhausted and plans for replenishment.

Clyburn also asked for Medicare and Medicaid revenue data stretching back to 2018, all documents and communications regarding COVID-related complaints, and data on any CARES Act relief they may have received.

“The Trump administration’s distribution of the funds to long-term care facilities and other companies under the CARES Act and other programs has been marked by a lack of transparency,” Clyburn asserted. “Recipients must agree to use the funds for certain purposes related to the outbreak, but there has been little public reporting on how nursing home operators have actually used the funds.”

The action comes after the subcommittee held a hearing on COVID-19 in nursing homes in which both frontline workers and academics described the problem as systemic.

The only thing COVID did was rip the doors open,” Chris Brown, a CNA working in Chicago, said during the hearing, testifying that staffing and PPE shortages were a problem in nursing homes prior to the pandemic. “It blasted the doors open of a system that was already failing.”

In the letters, Clyburn’s said the subcommittee’s mission is “‘to conduct a full and complete investigation’ of the ‘efficiency, effectiveness, equity, and transparency of the use of taxpayer funds and relief programs to address the coronavirus crisis,’ the nation’s ‘preparedness for and response to the coronavirus crisis,’ and ‘any other issues related to the coronavirus crisis.’”

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