Long-Term Care Facilities & COVID-19

Some grim statistics have been in the news lately about the number of nursing home residents who have died from COVID-19. The New York Times reported last week that there have been at least 6,900 coronavirus related deaths in long-term care facilities, with more recent estimates numbering over 10,000.
 
Even worse, residents of Pennsylvania nursing homes make up a substantial percentage of that number. Remember, Pennsylvania has one of the largest senior populations in the country. 
 
The PA Department of Health reported these sobering statistics on April 22, 2020 regarding nursing home deaths from COVID-19 in our five county area:
 
Bucks County:  72
Chester County:  44
Delaware County:  74
Montgomery County:  157
Philadelphia County:  113
PA Total nursing home deaths: 845
PA Total deaths:  1,622
 
The Pennsylvania Department of Health has listed assessing the needs of long-term care facilities in the wake of COVID-19 as one of its current challenges.  In his efforts to address this concern, Governor Wolf has introduced steps to help “flatten the curve” especially among our most vulnerable population.  The steps include specifically addressing infection control in long-term care facilities and providing $50 million in state funds for the purchase of medical equipment and supplies.
 
In addition, Pennsylvania is following the guidelines established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for long-term care and assisted living facilities:  no visitors except for essential personnel, no communal dining or group activities, active screening of residents and staff.
 
Nationwide, nursing homes are finding themselves struggling to meet CMS requirements and stay afloat. The need to spend more money on protective equipment for staff and the admission of fewer residents means a reduction in an already slim profit margin.  Facilities find themselves in the position of being unable to pay their rent and other bills without government help. This situation will unfortunately likely get worse before it gets better.
 
On a brighter note, some folks have asked about whether their stimulus payment will affect Medicaid eligibility.  According to the American Council on Aging, stimulus checks will not be counted as income and therefore will not impact Medicaid beneficiaries or applicants. Be sure to check if the stimulus payment will count as an asset next year if it is not spent within 12 months.