Burgess leads GOP contingent in seeking pandemic relief coverage for aging care facilities

U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) and 33 of his Republican colleagues urged U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to consider providing federal funds to nursing homes, skilled nursing centers, senior living communities, independent living, assisted living, memory care, and continuing care retirement communities in a forthcoming COVID-19 emergency relief package.

Such facilities, said Rep. Burgess, “face a difficult road ahead as they care for an older population that has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.”

“I appreciate the efforts already made by HHS to provide relief to our nation’s healthcare providers on the front lines of COVID-19,” Rep. Burgess added. “It is especially important that the agency take into consideration the additional challenges that providers caring for vulnerable aging populations face while confronting the reality of COVID-19.”

HHS on April 22 released guidance that included a roadmap for how the next rounds of the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF) will be distributed, according to the May 19 letter Rep. Burgess and his colleagues sent to Secretary Azar.

“As you are considering providers to include in the “additional allocations” category along with skilled nursing facilities, dentists, and providers that solely take Medicaid, we would like to remind you of the challenges additional providers caring for vulnerable aging populations face while confronting the reality of COVID-19,” the members wrote.

Rep. Burgess and the lawmakers requested that such facilities qualify for a portion of the PHSSEF grant funding that was provided by the Paycheck Protection Program in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and by the Health Care Enhancement Act.

“These facilities are deserving of support to aid them in their COVID-19 response to ensure the health and safety of their residents and their medical staff,” wrote Rep. Burgess and the representatives. “These seniors and their care providers are on the front line and need to see assistance quickly materialize from this program.”

Among the GOP members who joined Rep. Burgess in signing the letter were U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Billy Long (R-MO), Steve Scalise (R-LA), Buddy Carter (R-GA), Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Bob Latta (R-OH), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Will Hurd (R-TX), Fred Upton (R-MI), Bill Flores (R-TX), and Mike Kelly (R-PA).