Last week, a congressman from the Sunshine State signed a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Sec. Alex Azar calling on him to send unallocated funds from the Provider Relief Fund to long-term care facilities and assisted living facilities to buy equipment to test for COVID-19 and protect residents and staffers from it.
U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., led the letter, getting almost 20 members of the U.S. House to sign it including U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla.
“Across the nation, COVID-19 has threatened the lives of our aging Americans. The elderly who live in senior living communities are the most vulnerable and at-risk population. For many of these individuals, assistance is required to accomplish daily tasks. We must prioritize unallocated funds to help these communities. Especially in our state, these facilities need our support now, and they will also need it in the administration of rapid-testing and possible future vaccines,” said Emmer on Thursday when the letter was sent.
“I was encouraged by the administration’s recent announcement to prioritize and deliver rapid response antigen tests to assisted living communities. However, more must be done to help these facilities recover. In addition to the unacceptable rate of infections and deaths, they have suffered financial losses and need assistance to continue offering vital care,” Emmer added.
Steube weighed in on the letter over the weekend.
“Assisted living and long-term care facilities are on the front lines of caring for Florida’s most vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic but have not received adequate resources,” Steube said on Sunday. “As we round the corner towards beating the pandemic, we need to do everything possible to empower our seniors and their caregivers by allocating resources for rapid testing, vaccinations and treatments.”
“The Provider Relief Fund was established through the CARES Act and allowed HHS to distribute $175 billion to hospitals and healthcare providers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” Steube’s office noted. “As the letter points out, senior living communities represent more than two million seniors and one million front line caregivers. This includes 21,600 assisted living, memory care, continuing care retirement communities, and independent living communities. In 2018, the Department of Elder Affairs estimated that there were over 4 million Floridians over the age of 65, and 561,273 Floridians over the age of 85. The success of long-term care facilities also has a positive economic impact for the entire state with facilities supporting an estimated $26.68 billion of Florida’s economy.”
Steube easily won a second term in Congress earlier this month. He represents parts of Southwest Florida in Congress.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.