COVID-19 Supplemental Payments and the ‘Fragile State’ of the Long Term Care Sector

A McKnight's Senior Living article earlier this week noted Maine Governor Janet Mills' announcement regarding an additional $25 million in one-time relief funding to help long term care providers continue to recover from the pandemic. The funding was distributed in proportion to demonstrated need, as determined by historical revenue, resident vacancy rates, and spending on contract labor.
The news was welcomed by Maine Health Care Association, which noted ongoing pandemic effects, including a severe staffing shortage. “This supplemental support comes at a critical time as nursing homes and residential care facilities are experiencing atypical and exorbitant costs,” MHCA President and CEO Angela Westhoff said.
Staffing shortages were front and center in a recently released report from the Maine Center for Economic Policy, which stated that the state's direct care workforce is in a “fragile state due to a fundamental undervaluing of care.” The report noted that low government reimbursement rates for direct care translates into low wages for workers, who face high rates of poverty, financial hardship, and burnout.
The result, they said, is chronic labor shortages and a lack of quality services for residents. The report authors stated that a collective failure to adequately support direct care workers is keeping more than 8,000 people out of the workforce, costing the state $1 billion in additional economic activity.
Westhoff said that the report reinforces MHCA's position that Maine is facing a “detrimental direct care workforce shortage.”
“The lack of employees at nursing homes and other facilities has far-reaching consequences on the healthcare continuum and the economy,” she said. “We need legislators to adequately fund the valuable work of all healthcare workers to ensure our state has enough employees to help care for our loved ones.”
Read the full article here.
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