State directs nearly $250M to long-term care facilities for COVID-19
VDH will also publicize facility-specific data, including cases and deaths
Because a majority of COVID-19 outbreaks in Virginia have occurred in long-term care facilities, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday that the state will direct nearly $250 million to these facilities for coronavirus response, with most of the funding coming from federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.
Northam has also directed the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to publicize facility-specific COVID-19 data, including cases and deaths.
“The lockdowns of long-term care facilities to protect residents and staff from the spread of COVID-19 have been hard on residents and their families,” Northam said in a statement. “These actions will help support long-term care facilities as they ease those restrictions, while keeping their residents safe and ensuring that the public gets accurate information on the spread of this virus in these facilities.”
The $246 million in funding will support nursing homes and assisted living facilities to address staffing shortages, increased infection control measures and purchasing more personal protective equipment (PPE). The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recommends that facilities test residents and staff weekly, and the state government is currently developing testing recommendations for the upcoming phases of Northam’s Forward Virginia phased reopening plan.
In late May, it was reported that about 60% of coronavirus deaths in Virginia have occurred in long-term skilled care facilities and nursing homes.
Most nursing facilities in Virginia receive Medicaid payments, and more than $56 million has gone to provide testing for residents and staff thus far. During the General Assembly’s special session in April, Northam and the legislature agreed to increase Medicaid reimbursement to nursing homes by $20 per resident per day.
VDH, in partnership with the Virginia National Guard, also announced Friday a goal to complete baseline surveys (which test all residents and staff in the same time period) of all Virginia residents by July 15. Northam is also directing VDH to release the names of all long-term care facilities that have had an outbreak. Only aggregate data has been reported up until this point.