A Message From ASHA's President

October 16, 2020, David Schless, ASHA - Here’s an update on ASHA's key areas of focus: advocacy, public relations, industry news, meetings and research. Please forward this to others in your organization who would benefit.

Advocacy

Phase 3 Provider Relief Fund Update

ASHA participated in a weekly call on Wednesday with HHS for an update on Provider Fund Phase 2 and 3 issues and Antigen Testing Distribution to assisted living.  HHS shared that PRF checks are going out, and that many of the complicating issues Nick shared with the ASHA Board last week have largely been resolved.

HHS said it has sent 270,000 Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits to assisted living communities in Red and Yellow counties that have a CLIA Certificate of Waiver.  HHS will continue to send the Abbott kits to assisted living communities through December, but after that point, communities will be responsible on their own for accessing them through Abbott or other sources.

We encourage communities that are not CLIA certified to make an application.  These tests are only available to CLIA-certified Assisted Living communities.  See below for info on how to apply.   

Member Survey About Provider Relief Funds, Abbott Testing, Remains Open

ASHA this week conducted an online survey to assess the level of HHS-based support received regarding the Provider Relief Funds and the Abbott Antigen Rapid Result tests.  While given a short deadline, we heard from 36 respondents and gathered some relevant data.

Among the highlights from this 10-question survey so far:

- 53% of those who applied say they have received some PRF funds      
- 46% say they received at least 2% of gross revenues
- 47% say that at least 80 percent of their communities are CLIA-certified, including 28% who say they are 100% CLIA-certified
- Only one-fourth of the respondents have received the Abbott Rapid Response Test kits for at least 80% of their CLIA-certified communities
- Only one-third have received an adequate number of the Abbott Rapid Result Test kits from the federal government 

It is important for ASHA to keep tabs on this progress.  Because both of these programs are in the early stages of the distribution of funds and tests, these results are not that surprising.  We hope to see greater access in the coming weeks.  This survey remains open to members.  Click to participate.  Final results will be shared next week.

Testing Guidance: The CDC provided this guidance for Performing Broad-Based Testing for SARS-CoV-2 as well as the antigen test and the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test in congregate settings.  The antigen test can have results in as few as 15 minutes, compared to the PCR test which could take several days.

CLIA Certificate of Waiver: Senior living operators who are not CLIA-certified can access an accelerated process for gaining certification.  For more details, click here.  Please note: The application process can take 24 to 72 hours, depending on the state.

ASHA Tax Counsel Participates in Milken Institute 'Long-Term Care Financial and Delivery' Session

The Milken Institute’s Center for the Future of Aging on Oct. 14 hosted an “Innovations Lab” on Long-Term Care Financing and Delivery.  

These events are intended to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders to devise new business models and policy recommendations to remove current barriers to affordable LTC financing and service delivery.  The event involved about 40 diverse stakeholders, including Juniper Communities CEO Lynne Katzmann, NIC’s Bob Kramer and ASHA tax counsel Randy Hardock.

Not surprisingly, there was general agreement that dealing with the problems of LTC financing and delivery would require actions on a number of fronts.  However, the goal of this lab was to identify two or three potential approaches that would be the subject of more intense study and working sessions with the goal of producing a report that details the possible solutions and implementation plans.

The discussion prioritized two general areas for further study:

- Access to Better Integrated Health and Home Care; and   
- Coordination of Public and Private Financing of LTC Costs. For details, click HERE.

ASHA has long made long-term care financing a policy priority and continues to advocate for all options such as tax deductions, enhanced retirement saving tools and incentives to encourage the purchase of long-term care insurance products.  Sessions such as these are helpful to move some of these important policy proposals forward.

Democratic Senators Urge CMS to Expand Data Collection on COVID-19 to Assisted Living Communities

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee; joined by Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); sent a letter urging Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma to protect people with disabilities and older Americans and finally expand data collection and reporting on COVID-19 cases in congregate care facilities—including assisted living facilities, institutions for people with disabilities, and mental health facilities. 

The letter stated “Despite how critical data-collection is to identifying and responding to COVID-19 outbreaks, current gaps in CMS guidance are leaving many people with disabilities and older Americans at risk.”

The Senators demanded that Administrator Verma expand current federal reporting regulations beyond nursing homes to include other congregate care facilities and take immediate action in response to serious health and safety findings. See letter

State-by-State COVID-19 Information Grid

Please click here to view an updated state grid with COVID-19 information including the latest on state liability protections, testing requirements, reporting and visitation policies.  Please contact Sheff Richey in ASHA’s offices at srichey@seniorshousing.org if you are aware of new or different information related to any of these items.

COVID-19 Relief Bill in Limbo

The Senate is poised to take up another targeted pandemic relief bill when the chamber convenes for votes next week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Thursday.  The forthcoming package is largely expected to mirror the previous Senate GOP “skinny relief” effort, including business liability provisions and allocating roughly $500 billion toward unemployment insurance, health care, education and small businesses. 

Much like the previous attempt to clear this measure last month, it is expected that all Senate Democrats (and possibly a few Senate Republicans) will vote against a motion to consider the legislation.

Meanwhile, broader relief talks between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and White House officials remain at a standstill, as outlined in a recent “Dear Colleague” letter from the Speaker yesterday. 

ASHA continues to press for additional financial relief for senior living in the next stimulus legislation, which is now looking like a post-election effort.

SENIORS HOUSING PAC UPDATE

The 2020 Seniors Housing PAC campaign is entering the home stretch and members who have not yet contributed to the Seniors Housing PAC are encouraged to do so as soon as possible.  The Seniors Housing PAC provides ASHA’s legislative team with the resources to engage directly with members of Congress on critical legislation such as the COVID-19 stimulus bills that provided financial relief to our industry. 

An up-to-date report of those who have contributed to the Seniors Housing PAC can be accessed by clicking here. Additional information about the Seniors Housing PAC can be found here. To contribute using your personal credit card, please contact Sheff Richey at srichey@seniorshousing.org.

ASHA’s 2020 Chairman’s Circle event will take place Thursday, Nov. 19 in a virtual format from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, Nov. 19.  The featured speaker for the Chairman’s Circle event will be Michael Steele, a conservative political commentator, and author.  He made history when he became the first African American to win statewide office in Maryland, where he served as lieutenant governor 2003 to 2007.  He also was the first African-American chairperson of the Republican National Committee (2009 to 2011).  Steele is a political analyst for MSNBC and has appeared frequently on NBC’s Meet the Press, CBS’s Face the Nation and HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher.

Information about the program will soon be sent to all current members of the Chairman’s Circle (those who have contributed $2,000 to $5,000 to the Seniors Housing PAC this year).   

ASHA PUBLIC RELATIONS PLANS PHASE 2   

ASHA’s national public relations campaign continues to combat negative media coverage related to COVID-19 and is expected to enter a second phase by the end of October.     

The first phase targeted influential media sites (including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times).  The second phase of ASHA’s PR campaign will incorporate a geo-tiered media strategy targeting both large and smaller markets. 

The strategy will also retarget visitors to our Where You Live Matters website to advance prospects in the sales process.  The second phase will focus on future residents and their families and will employ digital video advertising, online display advertising, paid search advertising, paid social advertising and owned social advertising.  

ASHA WEBINARS FOCUS ON COVID-19 ERA ADAPTATION

ASHA and Masterpiece Living are releasing a series of complimentary webinars that will explore how the industry is adapting and moving forward during the COVID-19 era. 

Forthcoming episodes in the series will feature Catherine L. Owens of The Wolff Company with Dr. Roger Landry of Masterpiece Living discussing senior living marketing and sales in the COVID era.  Owens is a veteran marketing and sales professional and author of Be Your Own Hero: Senior Living Decisions Simplified.

The third installment will feature ASHA President David Schless interviewing Dr. Roger Landry of Masterpiece Living in a free-flowing discussion that explores Dr. Landry’s perspectives on how best to respond to the challenges of COVID to maintain vitality and emotional well-being.

Landry, the best-selling author of Live Long, Die Short is a preventative medicine physician trained at Tufts University School of Medicine, who also holds a graduate degree from Harvard University School of Public Health.  The discussion will focus on the wellbeing of residents, staff and family during these unprecedented times.

The first of these webinars looked at the Financial Impact of COVID-19 on Senior Living Communities and covers a range of operational and investment-related issues, including the results of a recent survey by ASHA and HealthTrust that examined data collected from over 150,000 units of senior living between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2020.

The first of these webinars looked at the Financial Impact of COVID-19 on Senior Living Communities and covers a range of operational and investment-related issues, including the results of a recent survey by ASHA and HealthTrust that examined data collected from over 150,000 units of senior living between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2020.