Oklahoma Nursing Homes to Receive Emergency Funding to Offset COVID Mitigation Expenses

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OKLAHOMA CITY—Care Providers Oklahoma today thanked Governor Kevin Stitt, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for delivering over $68 million in emergency COVID-relief funding for nursing homes and facilities that care for people with disabilities. Additionally, Care Providers Oklahoma acknowledged the work of Sen. Greg McCortney and Rep. Marcus McEntire for their efforts to assist nursing homes and nursing home residents.

OHCA submitted a state plan amendment (SPA) to CMS requesting approval to redirect federal funds towards “Medicaid Disaster Relief for the COVID-19 National Emergency” on March 26 2021. On May 12, CMS approved that request, allowing OHCA to redirect federal dollars, including:

  • Approximately $48 million for nursing facilities and $3 million for intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ICFs/IID) to support pay for direct care staff and other personnel. Many facilities have faced skyrocketing payroll costs after awarding “hero pay” incentives to staff during the COVID pandemic.
  • Approximately $8 million for nursing facilities and $500,000 for ICFs/IIDS for continuation of infection control and prevention programs and the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Approximately $8 million for nursing facilities and $500,000 for ICFs/IIDS for enhanced social and mental health programming and activities to ensure the health and wellness of Medicaid beneficiaries.

Care Providers Oklahoma President and CEO Steven Buck said the funding offered a lifeline to the skilled nursing profession during one of the most challenging periods it has ever faced.

“Since the coronavirus came to Oklahoma, our residents, our staff and our facilities have been engaged in a joint effort to beat it back,” said Buck. “With COVID rates in long-term care settings plummeting from their high last year, that effort has been largely successful. In fact, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health Weekly Epidemiology Report, there were only 4 new resident positive cases over the last week across over 600 long term care facilities licensed by the agency. That success has only been possible because of previously unimaginable sacrifices on the part of residents and staff and enormous financial strains on operators. 

“The approval of this emergency funding request means that facilities that have been drowning in expenses from PPE, ‘hero pay’ incentives, and COVID mitigation will be able to keep their doors open and continue to provide a high level of service,” continued Buck. “Our thanks go out to Governor Stitt for taking it upon himself to advocate for our residents and our facilities, and to OHCA and CMS for doing the work required to get this request filed and approved. Finally, we continue to be grateful to Sen. McCortney and Rep. McEntire and their colleagues in the Legislature for stewarding House Bill 2119 through the early parts of the legislative cycle as a back-up strategy should the state plan amendment stall.” 

OHCA CEO Kevin Corbett said that cooperation between agencies, lawmakers and nursing home advocates was key to getting the SPA request approved.

“We are thankful our federal partners at CMS acted swiftly to approve this crucial emergency funding request,” said Corbett. ” We appreciate the collaboration between our legislative partners, Care Providers of Oklahoma and the OHCA team in developing this plan.”

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