Governor Northam announces $246 million to support long-term facilities COVID-19 response

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Posted at 5:50 PM, Jun 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-20 17:51:01-04

RICHMOND, Va. - Governor Northam announced the new guidelines and testing requirements for reopening long-term care facilities, and how $246 million will support long-term care facilities in their response to COVID-19.

“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,” said Governor Northam. “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.”

VDH’s state-specific guidelines for nursing home reopening require licensed nursing homes, certified skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), and certified nursing facilities (NFs) to conduct baseline and ongoing testing of all facility staff and residents while those facilities are in the first phase of the reopening process.

Testing recommendations for latter phases are currently under development.

Virginia will spend an additional $246 million in new funding to support nursing homes and assisted living facilities in addressing staffing shortages, increasing infection control measures, and purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as complying with the new testing requirements.

The majority of funding will go to nursing facilities, which receive Medicaid payments. More than $56 million is provided for periodic testing of nursing home residents and staff.

During April's General Assembly reconvened session, Governor Northam and the General Assembly agreed to increase Medicaid reimbursement to nursing homes by $20 per resident per day.

This additional funding includes $152 million from the Provider Relief Fund that long-term care facilities have received for COVID-related expenses.

Assisted living facilities will receive $20 million in support, nearly doubling state funding for these facilities, in recognition that these facilities are also experiencing additional costs and have not had the federal support that nursing facilities have received.

Due to a majority of COVID-19 outbreaks occuring in long-term care facilities, VDH, in partnership with the Virginia National Guard, has supported long-term care facilities in conducting “baseline” surveys, which tests all residents and staff in the same time period. VDH plans to complete these baseline surveys of all Virginia nursing homes by July 15.

Governor Northam also announced that he is directing VDH to release the names of individual long-term care facilities that have experienced a COVID-19 outbreak.

VDH has previously said that it is their responsibility to protect patient and facility anonymity under the Code of Virginia. However, due to the widespread nature of this pandemic, it is now unlikely that releasing facility information would compromise anonymity or discourage facilities from participating in a public health investigation.