PA long term care facilities seeing a cutback in COVID-19 funding

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LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Multiple agencies are seeking clearer answers tonight from the state regarding ongoing vaccination efforts.

Some leaders are asking the federal government to step in. Others wonder why people with pre-existing conditions have to wait.

Wolf administration officials said the state does not have the money to maintain a key feature of its response to coronavirus outbreaks in Pennsylvania’s nursing homes.

The state is working on a short term solution.

Federal funding has run out to help long term care facilities across the commonwealth in their fight against COVID-19.

“But the need for the support has not disappeared,” Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller said.

According to state data, almost 10,000 of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 deaths have occurred in nursing homes. And currently, 46 long term care facilities in Luzerne County have outbreaks of COVID-19.

Miller says the federal funding had helped save lives in the state’s roughly 2,000 long-term care facilities

“Because of this, we are preserving and transitioning the rapid response assistance provided during the RRHCP,” Miller said.

24/7 long-term care facilities can continue to call for immediate support. Geisinger Clinic in partnership with UPMC Susquehanna are health system partners in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania recieved $175 million in federal coronavirus aid to help contain outbreaks in nursing homes. Now, the state is using up to $6 million through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to maintain those services through the end of February and another $28 million over the coming months to support testing.

One key difference will be the duration and size of a response involving staffing support.

“There were instances where a facility would need crisis staffing support for up to two weeks or so. Unfortunately due to the budget limitations that we have, that crisis staffing support will be limited to that 3-5 day window that I mentioned,” said Keara Klinepeter, Department of Health.

State officials say they will keep asking the federal government for more money to continue the program.

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