Families for Better Care announced today that it has found a cost-effective pathway to deploy molecular point-of-care rapid testing machines to every nursing home so all residents and all staff can quickly, and safely, be tested on an ongoing basis, regardless of symptoms.
The solution: use the more than a quarter-of-a-billion dollars in nursing home fines collected by federal officials in cases of abuse and neglect. But in order for these fines to be appropriated, help would be needed by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to fast-track deployment of funds to nursing homes for purchasing testing machines.
“If every nursing home had these rapid testing machines onsite, it would steamroll the coronavirus curve in nursing homes nearly overnight," Brian Lee, FFBC Director
“We’re calling on CMS to streamline the Civil Monetary Penalty Reinvestment Program’s application and approval process so nursing homes can quickly apply for, and secure, the funds necessary for the exclusive acquisition of molecular point-of-care rapid testing machines,” said Brian Lee, Families for Better Care’s executive director. "Rapid identification of infected residents and staff would expedite medical treatment and allow facility operators to swiftly implement quarantine protocols."
According to federal data analyzed by Families for Better Care, more than $225 million dollars in nursing home fines have been collected by federal officials over the past three years. A portion of these fines are returned to states so they could be reinvested back into the nursing home sector for “protecting or improving residents’ quality of care or quality of life.” We argue that preventing additional spread of the coronavirus into nursing homes more than meets those minimum "reinvestment" requirements.
“If every nursing home had these rapid testing machines onsite, it would steamroll the coronavirus curve in nursing homes nearly overnight,” Lee said. “With rapid testing machines costing roughly $4,500 per device, there’s more than enough money sitting in these state coffers to put at least one, if not multiple, testing machines in every nursing home nationwide.”
If production and delivery hurdles become problematic, we implore President Trump, for the sake of our families living and working in nursing homes, to authorize additional manufacturing of rapid testing devices under the Defense Production Act—every minute that goes by allows this virus to continue to creep into facilities.
“States are sitting atop a virtual gold mine that could save the lives of our loved ones in nursing homes, right now,” Lee stated. “There’s no better use of nursing home fines than for the preservation of life.”
ABOUT FAMILIES FOR BETTER CARE
Families for Better Care, Inc. is a non-profit citizen advocacy group dedicated to creating public awareness of the conditions in our nation’s nursing homes and other long-term care settings and developing effective solutions for improving quality of life and care. Families for Better Care is located in Austin, Texas.
Brian Lee, Executive Director