The CARES Act Provider Relief Fund has been a lifesaver to thousands of health care providers across the country. Through the fund distributions, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been able to stabilize access to care during the Public Health Emergency and help preserve the health care infrastructure for the post-pandemic future. We very much appreciate Congressional action creating the fund and the swift actions taken by HHS to prioritize the distribution of the funds.
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice strongly believes direct relief funds should be provided to personal care home care providers, and we are advocating directly to congressional leadership on this issue.
NAHC firmly believes Congress must take immediate steps to provide funds to an essential part of our health care system that, to date, has not received this crucial support. Home care companies that serve millions of Americans with vital personal health care supports, such as assistance with the administration of prescribed medications, exercise programs that maintain and improve functional capabilities, hygiene, feeding, and numerous Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) are a core part of community-based health care. These services, and the dedicated caregivers that provide them, have been uniformly recognized as essential health care providers by state and federal policymakers. However, the companies that provide this care have not received any Provider Relief Fund support since the creation of the Fund, except where those companies bill Medicare and/or Medicaid.
The companies that have been left out so far do participate in many government health programs, such as the Veterans Administration and the Administration on Aging, along with providing services funded by long term care insurance and private payment from their patients. It is estimated that they serve several million senior citizens and persons with disabilities each year, avoiding the need for high-cost institutional care. We need these companies to be operating today and tomorrow to meet the needs of our growing aged population.
Support from the Provider Relief Fund would be consistent with other distributions that have occurred so far. These include distributions to home care agencies that provide this same care through Medicaid, assisted living facilities, and behavioral health providers. Similarly, HHS has provided funding supports beyond Medicare and Medicaid providers to dentists and behavioral health providers, among others. As such, the standards and structures are in place to allow these
companies to apply for funding.
As potential legislation is drafted to provide further COVID-19 PHE relief, we request that specific PRF funding be allocated for home care providers that have not previously qualified due to their not being Medicare and/or Medicaid providers. These providers have faced the same COVID-related challenges as their Medicare and Medicaid colleagues, including workforce shortages, added expenses for personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies, and lost revenue due to added caregiver time properly performing COVID precautions and increased overtime expense.
Private duty home care providers are an essential part of allowing people to remain independent, living in their own homes, and slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 and its variants.
Private duty care providers have been on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19, without the recognition and support they deserve. It is long past time to remedy that.