After the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) admitted it had not invested nearly $20 million in CARES funding to support state agencies, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) contacted the agency to demand they stop withholding aid. Nearly half of all Coronavirus fatalities across the country have occurred at nursing homes. In Rep. Harder’s district, two skilled elder care facilities have seen outbreaks which have resulted in deaths of their residents. The unspent funding from CMS was set aside by Congress to support state agencies’ response to outbreaks at nursing homes. Although the CARES Act was signed into law more than three months ago and deaths continue to increase, CMS has only provided $81 million of the $100 million Congress earmarked for state nursing home aid.
“Older people in nursing homes are at much higher risk of Coronavirus – they’re in close quarters, many have preexisting conditions, and age itself is a risk factor – this isn’t news, but the agency responsible for helping out has been asleep at the wheel,” said Rep. Harder. “We need CMS to get its act together and provide the rest of the funding we set aside on a bipartisan basis to help protect our seniors. Our Valley families need this money now.”
Harder has been a leader in efforts to protect nursing home residents and staff during the Coronavirus Pandemic. In early May, after CMS announced it would form a task force which would not meet until June, Harder demanded faster action and a better response from the agency. He also recently introduced the Nursing Home Pandemic Safety Act, which would guarantee universal testing for all nursing home residents and staff. He also has pushed CMS to properly regulate nursing homes after a report revealed that 82 percent of nursing homes lacked proper infection protocol – even before the start of the pandemic.