COLUMBUS – State Representative Sara Carruthers today provided sponsor testimony on House Bill 461, legislation to distribute $300 million in federal funds to COVID-19 relief for Ohio nursing facilities.
“We have an opportunity here to provide aid to Ohio nursing homes that have been under the extraneous stress of COVID-19 for almost two years,” said Carruthers. “This bill will relieve some of struggles that frontline staff have faced during these difficult times.”
The $300 million will come from the State Fiscal Recovery Fund that was authorized earlier this year under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The bill will be a one-time payment to be made on December 31, 2021.
Under the bill, a nursing facility’s payment amount be calculated using the following steps:
- Determine the percentage sufficient to distribute the appropriated funds to all Ohio nursing facilities; and
- Multiply that percentage by the per Medicaid day payment rate for each nursing facility, as of July 1, 2021.
Ohio nursing home operating revenue decreased 11.7% between the first quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, due to many families choosing to keep their loved ones at home, concerned about coronavirus spreading in the congregate care settings, according to research by Scripps.
“Nursing homes have been under financial stress since the start of the pandemic. The cost of doing business for a provider has increased because of the following: personal protective equipment, “hazard” pay, use of agency staff, testing, data submission, and increased regulations. These costs have continued throughout the pandemic and in some cases, such as staffing costs, are increasing rapidly. Toss in a decline in occupancy and general inflation and it is a recipe for financial distress,” noted Chris Murray, CEO of The Academy of Senior Health Services, in his proponent testimony on the bill.
The bill now awaits additional hearings in the House Ways and Means Committee.