From the Desk of Karen Messer, President and CEO:
I wanted to give you an update I received from LeadingAge National on the next COVID relief package.
As you may know, the U.S. Senate voted over the weekend on an amended version of the American Rescue Plan passed by the House at the end of February. Some of the items include:
- Significant funding for vaccine distribution, testing, development of therapeutics, PPE, toward safe reopening of the economy and schools, supporting and raising up the public health workforce.
- Significant funding for the states, tribal, territorial and local governments to address financial losses over the past year;
- $1,400 stimulus checks going to low and middle income persons; these checks do not affect eligibility for Medicaid or HUD, and checks will go to nursing home and assisted living residents just as they did last year.
- Funding for nursing home strike teams and for QIOS to develop and disseminate IC materials.
- Housing funding: more than $40 billion in assistance to renters, landlords, and homeowners to help people keep their housing and to prevent and end homelessness. While this does not include the LeadingAge $1.2 billion ask for older adults in affordable senior housing communities, it will keep millions of older adults and aging services staff stably housed.
- Provider Relief funds: $8.5 billion for rural providers, including home and community based providers as well as congregate. LeadingAge strongly advocated for more money in the provider relief fund for all members, but this is a critical victory for rural members and we will continue to advocate for further relief in future packages, but this is a real victory for rural health care.
- HCBS FMAP bumped up from 7.35% to 10%, which has been the LeadingAge ask, so another victory, and a significant increase in funding dedicated to HCBS.
- And, a new pot of money ($219 billion) to state and local governments that can be used to provide:
- Assistance to small businesses and nonprofits affected by the pandemic;
- Premium pay to “essential workers” defined as workers who are critical to continuity of essential infrastructure or other sectors; of $13 per hour over regular pay.
The bill now goes to House, which is expected to pass as-is today, and be signed by President this week. While the bill doesn’t provide everything for which LeadingAge has been advocating, there have been a lot of successes, including some that were added in the Senate. It is critical to address the pandemic, provide additional funds to our members and staff, and we will continue to advocate for more in the next relief package and the upcoming debate over an infrastructure package.
We also will be working here in Illinois to advocate for another round of COVID relief funding for our members. We will keep you updated on our conversations with lawmakers.
Contact the Governor
During the Lame Duck Session, the Illinois General Assembly passed HB3360, which would deliver a devastating blow to healthcare providers if signed by the Governor. It provides for sweeping allowance for recovery of prejudgment interest (9%) in rights of action against providers. HB3360 would provide for one of the most unbridled methods of prejudgment interest collection in personal injury cases in the country. The legislation is undoubtedly harsh and hostile towards providers.
The bill was amended and passed at a late hour, with no hearing, no public testimony, and no opportunity for industry input. It arrived at the Governor’s Office on February 4 for the Governor’s consideration. As you know, we join several statewide organizations in urging the Governor to Veto HB3360. Please join us once again and call to the Governor’s Office and send a message through the below contact form, urging him to Veto HB3360.
Contact the Governor’s Office at:
Springfield Office: 217-782-6830
Chicago Office: 312-814-2121
Contact Form (include the bullets below in crafting your message)
Here is your script for the phone call and contact form message:
- My name is (YOUR NAME) and I am (YOUR TITLE) at (YOUR ORGANIZATION)
- During one of the most challenging times in industry history, we have worked hard to continue our mission of providing the highest quality care and services and ensure resident and staff safety, all without liability protections.
- I urge Governor Pritzker to veto House Bill 3360. This bill is punitive, unreasonable, and unfair.
- My organization and our industry colleagues in Illinois have worked incredibly hard to fight COVID-19. Please don’t turn your back on us now. Veto HB3360!
If you have any questions, contact Jason Speaks.
TANs and Medicaid Pendings Update
LeadingAge Illinois Consultant, Matt Werner of Werner Consulting, has provided his weekly update on Transaction Audit Numbers (TANs). Click here to access the TANs report and here for an update on pendings.
Member Spotlight: St. Andrew’s Resources for Seniors System
St. Andrew’s Resources for Seniors System (STARSS), based in St. Louis, Missouri, has existed for over 60 years. The organization has 17 communities that offer the spectrum of seniors for seniors, including affordable, moderate, and luxury housing, assisted living and skilled nursing as well as home care services. The organization employs approximately 963 dedicated staff members.
One of those dedicated staff is Joseph Hicks, executive director of affordable housing. He has been in the industry since 1999 and has grown in the organization every since. “I started off as contractor, performing maintenance services,” explained Joseph. “I was later hired on as a maintenance technician. However, I was drawn in by the management side of the business. Within six months of coming aboard, I was offered the assistant manager position. Within a year, I was given the opportunity to become a manager.” He has embraced the leadership role he has at STARSS, and is proud to build a team where everyone is working together and supporting each other.
He has a desire and willingness to serve and has a multitude of things he is proud of individually and organizationally at STARSS. He enjoys witnessing the moment an applicant has been approved for an apartment in their senior housing communities. One of those communities is Rush Senior Gardens in East St. Louis. Joseph has educated legislators representing Rush on the services the community provides and the needs of housing providers. He led State Representative LaToya Greenwood (D-114th District; East St. Louis) through a Partners in Quality visit at the community in 2019, developing a relationship with her. Shortly after, she donated computers to Rush residents. Last week, Joseph led a Partners in Quality Virtual Visit, updating her on how the staff and residents are doing, about a year into the public health emergency, and outlining the needs of providers in her district and statewide. Today, the representative is scheduled to deliver PPE to Joseph for the community.
Joseph was also instrumental in the coordination and development of a networking opportunity for affordable housing members in Illinois and Missouri held a couple years ago at STARSS community Chesterfield, Missouri. The networking forum featured Linda Couch, vice president of housing policy at LeadingAge National. The event went so well that it led to the monthly LeadingAge Illinois and LeadingAge Missouri monthly HUD Member Meeting, which now is a monthly virtual meeting that includes not only Illinois and Missouri, but LeadingAge affiliates in Indiana, Minnesota, and Ohio.
Joseph has been a strong advocate for STARRS and LeadingAge Illinois. He continues to shine a spotlight on the importance of senior housing.
Providers across the country are looking for ways to boost vaccine confidence amongst those who are on the fence. On Wednesday’s Coronavirus Update Call, Dr. George Mensah from the National Institutes of Health will join to talk about some of the root causes of vaccine hesitancy and how we can get to the “moveable middle” with residents and staff. On Thursday Dr. David Wong will discuss a new coalition looking to expand the staff and use of monoclonal antibody treatments for providers. As Congress gets closer to the finish line on the next COVID-19 relief bill and the Administration continues to battle COVID, get vaccines out, and put nominees in place, there will be plenty of policy updates all week
Also, if you’re a member of both LeadingAge Illinois and LeadingAge National, stay connected with other LeadingAge National Members and share information and resources through the MyLeadingAge Member Community: COVID-19. This is a place to connect with your peers to share and discuss everyday practices related to the coronavirus virus. Take a moment now to log into your my.leadingage.org account and join the group to stay connected. LeadingAge also has a COVID-19 webpage with the latest updates, information and resources for members.