Today (March 27), the House passed and the President signed into law the third stimulus bill, H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Of particular note to skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities it includes the following provisions:
- A temporary suspension of Medicare sequestration cut
- $100 billion fund for eligible health care providers
- Deferral of 6.2% payroll tax
- $200 million in funding to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus
- Childcare support for health care sector employees
- New loan program for certain employers
- Funding for housing for the elderly and disabled
- Temporary relaxation of rules limiting net operating loss deductions
- Relaxation of excess business loss rules for pass-throughs and sole proprietors.
- Refundable employee retention tax credit
AHCA/NCAL has a more detailed summary of the bill, along with a summary of other COVID-19 related relief packages. We will be reaching out to the Administration, specifically on the $100 billion health care fund, to ensure long term care providers quickly receive a portion of these crucial resources.
VA Referrals to SNF During COVID-19 Emergency
Per an email to AHCA/NCAL from the Veterans Administration (VA), community care has halted non-urgent, non-emergent VA referrals to the community. Referrals for geriatrics and extended care services (including all nursing home referrals) will continue but they are being clinically reviewed based on guidance to carefully evaluate and prioritize referrals that are urgent/emergent and medically necessary based on clinical triage. NOTE: The VA and TriWest have delayed the deployment of community care network throughout Region 4; Montana and Eastern Colorado will deploy June 8, 2020 and the remainder of Region 4 by August 31, 2020. Referrals in these regions for post-acute care would continue to be via local VA contracts or veterans care agreements.
COVID-19 and Issues with Postal Carriers and Mail Delivery
AHCA/NCAL has been made aware by several of our provider members about issues with mail delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, we have been hearing that postal carriers are refusing to comply with screening process as required by CMS and many states for entrance into long term care facilities. When these issues have arisen, rather than simply adhering to the new safety protocol, postal carriers have refused to deliver the mail and/or required providers to retrieve their mail from the local post office.
Getting mail is one of the primary ways for our residents to stay connected to loved ones as well as to continue their important everyday routines. Many also receive crucial packages, such as prescriptions and tax preparation information in the mail. AHCA/NCAL has been advocating on Capitol Hill that postal carriers be subject to the same screening process as all essential personnel to our communities.
That being said, we have recently heard that the United States Postal Service (USPS) will be offering centers and other customers three options for mail delivery if there are issues with their current delivery.
- You may opt to redirect to a temporary mail receptacle inside or outside the building where screening would not be necessary.
- Place the mail on hold at the Post Office servicing this delivery. Mail and parcels can be held up to 30 days and will be available for customer pickup.
- Redirect all mail for the business to an alternate location.
Please note that in addition to the Capitol Hill efforts around this issue, AHCA/NCAL joined forces with other national associations to send a letter to the Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Postal Service to express our concerns. AHCA/NCAL will continue to monitor this issue, and keep members apprised of any relevant updates.