(Alexandria, Va.) – James Balda, Argentum President and Chief Executive Officer, issued the following statement on today’s expiration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.
The COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) officially terminated today, ending longstanding programs and policies established in response to the pandemic. The administration previously terminated a separate national emergency declaration by enacting H.J. Res 7 on April 10.
The PHE provided the legal basis for numerous programs, including requiring free rapid tests for private insurance and Medicare, telehealth services, and authorization of the PREP Act, which may provide limited liability protections for operators. Several of these items were addressed as part of last year’s omnibus spending package, including providing a two-year extension of telehealth flexibility through December 2024, and moving up the termination date of additional Medicaid funding from July 2023 to April 2023.
Along with the end of the PHE, the administration has ended the national health care worker vaccination mandate, which was originally established in November 2021 and covered health care workers at Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities. However, the mandate did not apply to assisted living facilities, including providers of Home and Community-based Services. CMS specifically noted in guidance that it “does not have regulatory authority over care settings such as Assisted Living Facilities.”
Argentum’s top priority throughout the PHE has been supporting communities, residents, and frontline caregivers with the resources needed to combat COVID-19. In the earliest days of the pandemic, senior living providers were presented with immediate and unprecedented challenges on multiple levels with little to no federal or state resources. This included sourcing highly scarce personal protective equipment (PPE), test kits, critical care equipment, and infection prevention and control supplies, navigating “stay-at-home orders” and their impacts to our staff and their families, and complying with rapidly evolving guidance issued by regulators at federal, state, and local levels that were slow to be issued and often conflicting or contradictory.
Senior living providers and workers in assisted living and memory care communities throughout the country provided heroic care to more than a million seniors during the pandemic. Not only does senior living outperform every industry represented in the American Customer Satisfaction Index, but a recent national survey found that 94 percent felt that their assisted living community provided adequate protection from COVID-19. According to NORC at the University of Chicago, a nonpartisan research organization, roughly two-thirds of independent living (67 percent); assisted living (64 percent); and memory care (61 percent) communities had no COVID-19-related deaths.
Even though the PHE has ended, many of our members still face conflicting state and local restrictions, requirements, and unfunded mandates. The safety of our residents is paramount, but senior living communities are “home” for more than 1 million of our nation’s seniors. Overly prescriptive policies and regulations have been shown to be detrimental to residents’ well-being. Argentum is committed to working with our members and state partners to ensure that our communities are safe and open for the betterment of our residents.
Argentum is the leading national association exclusively dedicated to supporting companies operating professionally managed, resident-centered senior living communities and the older adults and families they serve. Since 1990, Argentum has advocated for choice, independence, dignity, and quality of life for all older adults.
Argentum member companies operate senior living communities offering assisted living, independent living, continuing care, and memory care services. Along with its state partners, Argentum’s membership represents approximately 75 percent of the senior living industry—an industry with a national economic impact of nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars and responsible for providing over 1.6 million jobs. For more information, visit www.argentum.org.
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