LeadingAge Weekly Calls with Washington’s Congressional Delegation

LeadingAge Weekly Calls with Washington’s Congressional Delegation

LeadingAge Washington and WHCA have had weekly check-ins with our congressional delegation and will continue doing so for the foreseeable future. We are thankful they are listening to the concerns of our state’s long term care and senior housing providers and are willing to help in any way possible. We began our meeting this past Wednesday with a review of the current number of facilities (skilled nursing, assisted living and adult family homes) with a suspected or confirmed COVID positive case. The increase in COVID week to week numbers have been alarming.  Currently, 66% of skilled nursing facilities and 23% of assisted living facilities have confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.  The numbers are likely understated given the lack of testing.

During the call, we emphasized we still face extreme difficulties accessing PPE supplies and a lack of testing. Without these two resources, we will not be able to prevent and contain further outbreaks by cohorting contagious residents and continue providing care if we can’t protect our health care and environmental staff.

We also brought up our state’s slow response in providing funds to skilled nursing facilities and the unacceptable freeze of FMAP funds to home and community-based settings. The delay is inexcusable and even when funding does begin to flow out to organizations, it’s not enough.  We spoke to the need for additional federal funds to be appropriated by Congress in the 4th stimulus bill.

Since this call, and letters to DSHS Sec. Strange and Legislative leaders here at home, we earlier today received word that the freeze on the FMAP funds for HCBS has been lifted.  DSHS will be working with us and others to develop methods to calculate and distribute the money now to all HCBS settings. This is a huge win! 

Finally, the last topic of discussion was the $600,000 in fines that Life Care Center received in response to the February outbreak in the facility. Congresswoman Susan Delbene’s staff reported she reached out to CMS to question the fines. LeadingAge expressed “now is not the time for the heavy hand of state government imposing IJ citations and punishing providers with steep fines. Now is the time for us all to work together to mitigate against the spread of the virus and to protect the health and safety of our workforce and residents in skilled nursing.” We need support and technical assistance where necessary and not distracted and taken away from our critically important work of caring for vulnerable residents.

We will continue to update you on these calls. 


Questions? Contact: 

Alyssa Odegaard- Vice President, Public Policy 

c: 206.948.2279