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$3 Billion Addition to Provider Relief Fund ‘Woefully Short’

A $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill is on its way to the president’s desk after being passed by both houses of Congress by late Monday. Trade associations representing senior living operators, however, say they are disappointed in its provisions.

The measure adds $3 billion to the Provider Relief Fund, to be distributed by the Department of Health and Human Services.

American Seniors Housing Association President David Schless said “there is much to disappoint” related to the bill and senior living.

“In addition to the package not including the liability protection the industry desperately needs, the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) grew by only $3 billion, a shocking decline from earlier reports of an additional $35 billion,” he said.

Schless also called for additional funding, noting that the $24.5 billion in Phase 3 funds currently being disbursed to providers by HHS is intended to apply to lost revenue and increased expenses from the first and second quarters.

“With the third and fourth quarters expecting to reflect significant financial stress in the industry, significantly more relief is needed,” he said. “The Provider Relief Fund is one of the few sources of financial relief available to the industry, and to not replenish these badly needed funds is seriously flawed and fails to recognize the significant work of the senior living industry to keep seniors and staff safe during the past 11 months.”

Schless said he was pleased, however, that the COVID relief bill directs PRF recipients to calculate lost revenues using the Frequently Asked Questions guidance released by HHS in June. “This preferred guidance allows the use of budgeted revenue for comparison to actual as long as the budget had been established and approved prior to March 27, 2020,” he said.

And long-term care providers can be pleased that the bill permanently extends the 7.5% adjusted gross income threshold for medical expense deductibility, Schless said.

“This is an issue that ASHA has championed for several years,” he said. “It was at risk of increasing to 10%, which would essentially be a tax increase for seniors who can use this deduction to help defray the costs of senior living and long-term care insurance premiums among other eligible expenses.”

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