August 11, 2020
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Ahead of AL/PC Testing Deadline, PHCA Continues Call to Address Testing Challenges for Pennsylvania’s Long-Term Care Providers

Shamberg: We must make long-term care the priority and ensure providers have access to every resource necessary. And that must begin with testing.

HARRISBURG, PA – Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA), offered testimony today before a public hearing of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ Democratic Policy Committee, highlighting continued COVID-19 testing challenges for Pennsylvania’s long-term care providers, including nursing homes, personal care homes and assisted living communities – especially as providers attempt to mitigate and contain the spread of COVID-19 in their facilities. Today’s public hearing on COVID-19 testing challenges featured Shamberg delivering testimony alongside other long-term care and public health leaders.

“For months, we have advocated for recurring, universal testing and the critical resources necessary to expand and prioritize this testing for Pennsylvania’s long-term care communities,” Shamberg said. “Simply put, even with investments from the CARES Act and the HHS Provider Relief fund, widespread testing has become an unsustainable cost, especially for an industry that has been underfunded by the state’s Medicaid program for the better part of the last decade. Multiple states across the country have already funded testing in long-term care, including Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland, Rhode Island and West Virginia. Why have Pennsylvania’s more than 2,000 long-term care providers, their residents and caregivers not also been prioritized?”

Just over a week ago, PHCA partnered with LeadingAge PA and PMDA, the Pennsylvania Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, to send a joint letter to Governor Wolf urging the administration to direct additional CARES Act funding to long-term care providers to fund future testing efforts.

Since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Pennsylvania, nearly 70% of all COVID-19-related deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities, and more than 800 facilities statewide have reported at least one positive case. Yet as the number of positive cases across Pennsylvania continues to rise, challenges still exist for nearly 2,000 long-term care facilities across the Commonwealth as they continue to mitigate and contain the spread of COVID-19.

Recent independent research has indicated that community spread of COVID-19 leads to spread in our long-term care facilities,” Shamberg said. “As the number of positive cases increase across Pennsylvania, we remain concerned these outbreaks may lead to a dramatic resurgence of cases in our nursing homes, assisted living communities and personal care homes as well. It is more critical than ever to bring long-term care providers to the table to collaborate and work together to overcome these challenges. We must make long-term care the priority. We must ensure providers have access to every resource necessary. And that must begin with testing.”

Video of Shamberg’s testimony can be found here.

Today’s hearing also featured testimony from Sarah Boateng, executive deputy secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Health; Dr. Wendy Braund, COVID-19 Response Director, Pennsylvania Department of Health; Brian O’Neill, executive chairman and founder of GENETWORx, Recovery Centers of America, Testing Centers of America, The Discovery Labs MLP Ventures; Dr. Monica Taylor, vice-chair, Delaware County Council; and Anne Henry, senior vice president and chief government affairs officer, LeadingAge PA.

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