Once again, the nursing home industry shows how powerful it is especially during an election year. Despite the industry’s failure to properly prevent, prepare, or contain COVID-19 among vulnerable nursing home residents, nursing homes will receive a 2.3% net Medicare increase for fiscal year 2021, under a proposal announced by the Trump Administration. The billion dollar pay boost drew praise from national for-profit chains who will also take advantage of the bail out in the CARES Act. The Skilled Nursing Facility Prospective Payment System proposed rule would take effect Oct. 1, 2020, the start of the new fiscal year.
Meanwhile, as the number of COVID-19 cases in long-term-care facilities soars, families are growing increasingly frustrated with nursing home management and state officials, saying they have allowed the facilities to cover up information about how deeply the virus has infiltrated and how their loved ones are doing. As the number of cases skyrockets, so has the worry and anger of families around the state who are unable to get information about their relatives.
Several long-term care and senior advocacy groups agree that staff and patients who test positive should be segregated from the general population. CMS and states have issued directives to designate COVID-19 floors and wings. Residents should be moved within nursing homes to create the isolated spaces and keep residents safe, regardless of COVID-19 status, the rules say. As states have stepped in, they’ve adopted different strategies on releasing the names of affected facilities, restricting visitors and forcing facilities to take infected patients. Advocates worry that some of these new policies are harming the very patients they are intended to protect.