December 7, 2020
Trump Administration Announces New Half Billion Incentive Payment Distribution to Nursing Homes
Today, the Trump Administration, through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) operating under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is announcing it will distribute $523 million in second round performance payments to over 9,000 nursing homes. These nursing homes are being rewarded for successfully reducing COVID-19 related infections and deaths between September and October.
"As we approach the rollout of safe and effective vaccines for our most vulnerable, we continue the innovative program we created this year to incentivize and assist nursing homes in battling COVID-19 and applying the right infection control practices," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. "This half a billion dollars in incentive payments will reward nursing homes that have shown results in their tireless work to keep their residents safe from the virus."
In August, HHS announced plans to distribute $5 billion in additional Provider Relief Fund (PRF) payments to nursing homes from which $2 billion would be dedicated to establishing an incentive-based program that rewards nursing homes that create and maintain safe environments for their residents. In October, HHS announced the first round of awardees receiving $331 million in payments for keeping new COVID-19 infection and mortality rates among residents lower than the communities they serve – as analyzed against CDC data between August and September. Today's announcement is the second of five evaluation cycles rewarding nursing homes for their performance reducing nursing home infection and mortality rates. Nursing homes will begin receiving payments December 9.
Nursing Home Infection and Mortality Outcomes
HHS found that between September and October, of the 13,251 eligible nursing homes, 9,248, or 69 percent, met the incentive program's infection control criteria. While less than the first cycle, the collective efforts of these nursing homes resulted in over 3,900 fewer infections relative to the rates seen in the communities where they exist. Against the mortality criteria, 9,128, or 68 percent of eligible nursing homes, achieved outcomes that met or exceeded the expected COVID-19 mortality rate for their facility.
This announcement rewards nursing homes for a period in time. HHS recognizes COVID-19 is a fluid challenge and it continues to take a devastating toll on nursing homes stretched thin and disproportionately impacted due in part to factors such as their congregate setting and the existing vulnerabilities of older residents with comorbidities. This new round of incentive payments will bolster the $15 billion already distributed to nursing homes in both Targeted and General Distribution PRF funding. Recipients may use this funding to acquire additional personal protective equipment or other efforts to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Continued Support for Nursing Homes
At unprecedented pace, the Trump administration, through Operation Warp Speed, is delivering on a promise to provide access to a COVID-19 vaccine before the end of the year. Two COVID-19 vaccine candidates have been submitted to the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization approval. In recognition of this administration's focus on protecting older Americans and as driven by data, the CDC, accepted the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), that states prioritize nursing home residents for tier one COVID-19 vaccine distribution, once available. Placing nursing home residents and health care personnel at the top of the list for the COVID-19 vaccine will be a game-changer in what has been a difficult fight against the pandemic. Paired with continued funding directly tied to COVID-19 infection and mortality rate reductions, HHS is exhausting all measures to ensure nursing homes nationwide are safe. Residents and their families can be assured help is on the way.
Finally, HHS is reminding all certified nursing homes that free interactive training and mentoring is available through the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to advance COVID-19 preparedness, safety, and infection control. To date, only half of all U.S. nursing homes have enrolled but registration remains open. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also has a free training program for nursing homes. These are vital resources nursing homes should employ to combat this pandemic.
Find a state-by-state breakdown of today's funding announcement here.*
Find a facility-level list of first-round nursing home incentive payment recipients here.
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