The Trump administration on Wednesday announced $5 billion in new grant funds for nursing homes to fight COVID-19 and said that it will require weekly staff testing for nursing homes in states with outbreaks.
The new funding is from the $175 billion Provider Relief Fund Congress created to help providers compensate for coronavirus-related costs and lost income. CMS previously sent $4.9 billion to nursing homes.
CMS will begin requiring nursing homes to test all nursing home staff weekly in states with a COVID-19 test positivity rate of 5% or greater. CMS announced that it will ship 15,000 rapid point-of-care testing devices to nursing homes over the next few months with testing, with 600 shipping this week.
LeadingAge, an association of aging services including nursing homes, called the new funding a good step but called for a coordinated national plan for testing. "There are important unanswered questions about this program, including how far this funding will go to support the new mandate of increased staff testing. We look forward to learning more," LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said in a written statement.
The agency will also send a weekly list of nursing homes with an increase in cases to state governments.
Assisted-living facilities have argued that they have been left out of federal assistance so far, and CMS did not provide further funding for assisted-living facilities on Wednesday.
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living praised the distribution from CMS but reiterated provider groups' call for lawmakers to add an $100 billion to the Provider Relief Fund in the next COVID-19 relief package.