WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 22) – The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) sent a letter Tuesday to U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to request an extension of the Public Health Emergency (PHE) declaration, which is set to expire in a few weeks, so that long term and post-acute care providers can continue to offer the most efficient and effective care possible to our nation’s most vulnerable population.
In the letter, AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson outlines the threat of a COVID resurgence in the United States due to the BA.2 variant and the unprecedented challenges that the sector has endured as a result of the pandemic.
“It is clear that we are not out of the woods yet, and extending the PHE is critical to ensure states and health care providers have the tools and resources necessary to respond to this ongoing, global crisis,” Parkinson wrote.
The long-term care sector has lost more than 400,000 workers since the beginning of the pandemic. Parkinson elaborates on the impact of the labor shortage and the financial burden of providers having to rely on temporary staff.
“Caregivers are burned out after fighting this virus for more than two years, and long-term care providers are struggling to compete for workers due to fixed government reimbursement rates … The current situation is unsustainable, and simply put, we need help.”
Additionally, Parkinson calls for the federal government to prioritize long term care for access to urgently needed resources, such as COVID-19 testing and treatments. Providers have faced ongoing challenges in accessing the tests and treatments needed to respond quickly to COVID outbreaks, even when residents are fully vaccinated.
“If we have learned anything over the past two years, it is that the elderly are among the most vulnerable to this virus, and therefore, deserve the greatest support and highest prioritization. Our caregivers have worked tirelessly day after day to protect and provide for their residents, and they need steady access to resources during this pandemic and moving forward.”
About the AHCA/NCAL
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represents more than 14,000 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit www.ahcancal.org or www.ncal.org.