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Here’s what getting to full testing of nursing homes and assisted living centers would take

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living…

Hello Rich – Below is the combined cost for COVID-19 testing of every resident and staff of assisted living communities in addition to nursing homes which would cost $672 million nationwide. Click here to download or view a pdf version.

Last week, I sent you cost estimates for testing all residents and staff in nursing homes just once which would cost $440 million nationwide. Today, we are building on that data to include the additional cost to test all residents and staff of assisted living communities, which AHCA/NCAL strongly supports, with an additional cost of $232 million.

Below are quotes from AHCA and NCAL as well as an explanation on the difference between nursing homes and assisted living communities. As we pointed out last week, ongoing testing carries unsustainable costs without continued support from federal and state governments. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks, Beth

Difference between Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Communities:

    • Generally, assisted living communities offer person-centered care to individuals who need some assistance with activities of daily living, but who do not require round-the-clock skilled nursing care, like those residing in nursing centers.
    • Many nursing homes are also known as skilled nursing rehabilitation centers, meaning they offer therapy to individuals following a hospital stay to help them return to the community.
    • While assisted living communities may offer some therapy services on-site, they focus more on offering a home-like, long term care environment that maximizes independence.

AHCA/NCAL Statements On Why Assisted Living Facilities Need Support In Response to COVID-19:

    • “For months now, we have been advocating for expanded and priority testing in long term care facilities to protect our residents and caregivers, but this is a significant undertaking and cost for them to shoulder on their own. Assisted living communities have yet to receive any direct aid, despite also serving vulnerable seniors. While building on support received from HHS, we are asking for additional consideration for all long term care facilities, whether it be in regard to additional testing, personal protective equipment, or funding.” Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of American Health Care Association and National Center of Assisted Living
    • “With seniors among those most susceptible to the virus, the assisted living profession, in particular, is facing historic challenges when it comes to our most sacred charge – the health and safety of our residents. Unfortunately, shortages of testing and PPE continue to be a challenge nationwide and because assisted living communities are not medical facilities, they have not been prioritized for testing or supplies. We encourage our elected leaders to prioritize our most vulnerable and those who care for them in long-term care settings as they allocate these critical resources.” Scott Tittle, Executive Director of the National Center for Assisted Living

If you look at the chart, they claim 4,480,295 tests would be needed to test residents and staff one time. Over the past seven days, the average daily testing number was 386,318 (even though the President of the United States said a month ago that the country would soon be testing 5 million people per day). So, at that rate, it would take 11.6 days to accomplish the goal if the nation diverted all tests to nursing home and assisted living residents and workers. And it would cost $672 million. For one round.

According to the AHCA/NCAL, Illinois would need to perform 180,032 tests to cover all residents/employees. Over the past seven days, Illinois has tested an average of 23,587 people every day. So, it would take 7.6 days to test all residents and workers if the state diverted all testing to that purpose. And it would cost $27 million. Again, for just one round.


  1. - Ken_in_Aurora - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 10:58 am:

    We lost my partner’s mother to COVID a few weeks ago - she was a nursing home resident in MA. There, the entire facility was tested by the MA National Guard. I don’t understand why this is even a question - it’s an issue of public health, and is exactly the kind of function that should fall to local, state or Federal government if needed.

  2. - City Zen - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 11:11 am:

    Hurry up before JB spends this money on next year’s budget.

  3. - bogey golfer - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 11:13 am:

    There is also independent living, which are apartments and the residents go to a dining room for dinner only, and they residents (use to) have social activities. My mother was previously in a such a facility for 3 years before needing memory care.

  4. - thoughts matter - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 11:36 am:

    My parents‘ assisted living center is also apartments with a dining hall, social activities. They also get housekeeping, medication management and transport to local doctors, etc. Many of the residents are capable of driving, shopping, etc on their own- just not living independently 24/7.

    Right now the residents are not allowed to eat in the dining hall, to be in groups of more than 10, and then only with social distancing. They are not allowed visitors. If they leave the property, they are confined to their apartment for 14 days. Testing will point out any positive cases now, but it won’t allow them to begin to socialize, to have visitors, or to leave the property for supplies, doctor visits, or even just a walk off the property to the gas station or park next door. Being as these policies have been in place for 2.5 months with no cases, it’s the staff that should be tested as they are who would be bringing it in at this point.
    I think most family members of this population are noting depression, anxiety and cognitive decline when we speak to them. Not sure how much longer they can keep it up.

  5. - Been There - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 11:58 am:

    The cost factor is a drop in the bucket. One of my parents is in assistant living. The place is great but they are getting around $60 grand a year. They can easily put that in our bill and we wouldn’t blink. But it looks like we are a long way off to have enough availability

  6. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 12:02 pm:

    I know I will be labeled an isolationist or right wing nut but I bet what we pay for our foreign wars in a week would cover inversely testing. What we pay in corporate welfare would probably pay also. It is about time people get taken care of

  7. - Chatham Resident - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 1:08 pm:

    Not to change the subject, but has anyone done calculations of how much testing every government employee (state/local/federal) in Illinois would cost? (Even though some state employees–now me included–may have already taken a test on their own. I did mine Monday before I return to work in the Capitol Complex June 1).

  8. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 1:10 pm:

    ===calculations of how much testing every government employee ===

    If you had clicked the link, you’d see the AHCA/NCAL bases its estimate on a cost of $150 per test. You can do the arithmetic.

  9. - Mama - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 1:58 pm:

    Compared to what people and/or insurance companies pay for care at a nursing hone $150 for the COVID-19 is nothing. Nursing homes should be able to afford the one time test for all staff members and their patients.

  10. - 44th - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 2:14 pm:

    Thoughts Matter, 11:36 am. Thank you for your post. I am struggling with a parent who needs to go into a home, but between the isolation you describe and the obvious corona risk we are holding off. Unfortunately holding off is causing its own issues. Your idea of just testing the workers sounds pretty good to me. It must be very worrisome to think of your parents, though since you used the plural hopefully they and you take comfort that at least they have each other.

  11. - BobO - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 2:22 pm:

    State and community-based residences for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities have had their disproportionate share of Covid related cases and need to be included in this list.
    State funded living arrangements(12,000), intermediate care facilities(4700) and state run developmental centers(1700).
    $2.7M just for the residents. Can’t forget that their corresponding direct support and other staff need to be included as well.

  12. - thoughts matter - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 3:02 pm:

    44th - The facility my parents are in is accepting new residents. However, they are doing virtual tours, t he new residents have to be tested first, and then go thru a 14 day quarantine once they get moved in. Not really a great way to begin. However, sometimes it is still the best option. I cannot take care of my parents at my home, for example.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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