March 24, 2020
Contact: Shayna Varner, 717-221-1800
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Long-Term Care Advocates Urge Gov. Wolf to Take Action to Protect Older Adults, Direct Care Workers and Long-Term Care Facilities as Part of COVID-19 Response

HARRISBURG, PA (March 24, 2020) – Yesterday afternoon, the Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA); LeadingAge PA; SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania; the National Union of Hospital & Health Care Employees, District 1199C, AFSCME, AFL-CIO; and UFCW 1776KS sent a joint letter to Gov. Tom Wolf urging his consideration of a number of requests to ensure proper protections for older Pennsylvanians in long-term care facilities and those who provide for their care.

These organizations have requested that Gov. Wolf take the following actions:

  • Make all possible efforts to procure an adequate supply of PPE (masks, gowns, gloves, etc.) funded through state or federal dollars;
  • Give a 3% increase in rates and direct minimum allocation of $290 million to nursing homes from the emergency funds approved (or yet to be approved) both federally and here in Pennsylvania, including but not limited to dollars accessible through the enhanced FMAP and other sources;
  • Provide and distribute emergency state or federal funding for skilled nursing and personal care homes/assisted living facilities to offer paid sick leave to all staff who have exhausted their sick leave benefits to avoid sick staff interacting with frail, vulnerable residents;
  • Immediately plan for how potential facility closures will be addressed, with a central focus on the residents living in these facilities, and what extraordinary financial assistance might be offered to facilities to avoid closures during this public health emergency.

Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, and Adam Marles, president and CEO of LeadingAge PA, released this statement:

“As the COVID-19 crisis impacts every corner of the commonwealth, no group is at greater risk than older adults. As associations and unions representing long-term care providers, hard-working direct care staff and the residents of facilities themselves, we recognize the pivotal role state and federal government will play in keeping our older adults safe, and the need to work together on their behalf.

“Last week, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which, among other provisions, provided access to approximately $1.5 billion additional Medicaid dollars for Pennsylvania.

“Together, we seek the collaboration of Gov. Wolf to ensure all possible support is available for our older Pennsylvanians and the extraordinary people who care for them on the front lines of this crisis. There has never been a more critical time for state government to partner with providers, workers and our residents to ensure health, well-being and safety.”

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