We're Getting Fleeced While COVID19 Kills Our Loved Ones in Nursing Homes
June 25, 2020
When the Coronavirus slammed onto America’s shores in late February, a Washington State nursing home became its first victim. Dozens of residents and staff were infected and died. Since then, families have been blocked from visiting, pleas by staff for personal protective equipment have gone unheard, and testing policies have been sloppily enacted, if at all.
While all of this was happening, the nursing home industry seemingly found ways to secure immunity deals, achieve reduced oversight, and thrive economically by fleecing Americans through bailout packages as our loved ones perished.
Sadly, thousands of nursing home residents have died unnecessarily.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that more than 50,000 nursing home residents have died during the pandemic, accounting for nearly half of all COVID19 deaths. The growing consensus is that a robust testing protocol is needed to abate the crisis in facilities, so much so, that the Center for Disease Control updated the testing guidelines for nursing homes and recommended that rapid testing results happen in 48 hours or less to “facilitate effective interventions.” That’s a standard no state is even remotely close to achieving.
Industry lobbyists argue that more than $440 million is needed to accomplish a single occurrence of baseline PCR testing for residents. Those results would take days, even weeks, to receive. They’re basing this on a $150 per test figure.
But that figure is wildly outrageous.
The Miami Herald reported last week that “several companies produce rapid testing machines and the FDA has set the price per test at between $40 and $50 per test, depending on a state’s reimbursement. The cost of the machines ranges from $4,500 to $6,000.”
And here is where the fleecing is happening.
Federal officials are reimbursing providers $100 per test through Medicare. Since that reimbursement is below the inudstry's estimated $150 per test, lobbyists are working overtime to convince the feds to drain more money from taxpayers so we can overpay for a testing solution that the industry believes is untenable, just to line their pockets. Now couple that with the fact nursing home coffers have already been padded under the CARES ACT Provider Relief Fund and the recent Health and Human Services’ $4.9 billion nursing home bailout package, none of which have done enough to improve testing accessibility to keep our loved ones safe. Again, all while our loved ones are dying.
And here is more of the rub.
Families for Better Care proposed a FREE national rapid testing solution to CMS that would have provided rapid testing machines to every nursing home using the collected nursing home fines to pay for them. There’s at least $226 million readily available at this moment in state coffers, all that was needed was CMS to green-light the unlocking of the fines to be used exclusively for this explicit purpose. No legislative action required. But the Trump administration rejected the proposal because of, get this, cost considerations!
Here’s the bottom line.
Nursing homes are pillaging taxpayers while the body bags continue to mount. This is detestable and must be exposed to accelerate an immediate, cost-effective, national rapid testing solution for nursing homes that actually starts saving lives—before there's no one left to save.
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