Legislation passed by the Senate today will provide vital funding to nursing homes, personal care facilities and other senior citizens’ programs impacted by COVID-19 and allow them to continue providing essential services for the state’s most vulnerable population, according to Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25) and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34).
Senate Bill 1122 appropriates $507 million from Pennsylvania’s share of federal CARES funding to support a variety of programs and services for senior citizens and $31 million for a one-time grant program for volunteer fire and EMS companies. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
“A joint public hearing last week clearly detailed the severe impact that COVID-19 has had on nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Overall, they were not adequately equipped nor prepared to handle a crisis of this magnitude,” Senator Scarnati said. “The funding in Senate Bill 1122 provides essential support for facilities and caregivers across the Commonwealth as they serve their residents and provide peace of mind to their families.”
“It’s a basic fact that nursing homes and long-term care facilities are ground zero for this virus and it is in those settings and among Pennsylvania’s senior citizen population that it has its most devastating impact,” Senator Corman said. “This outbreak has been called a war, and for good reason. If this is a war, then undoubtedly Pennsylvania’s nursing homes, long-term care facilities and senior citizens’ services are the frontline of the battle. This money will provide those dedicated men and women on the frontlines with the resources they need to meet and overcome this challenge.”
The Senate Aging and Youth Committee and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee questioned administration officials and heard from operators of nursing homes and personal care homes during the public hearing on May 7.
The $507 million in “Caring for Those Who Care for Us” funding in Senate Bill 1122 would be provided to:
Pennsylvania has 700 nursing homes with approximately 80,000 residents, and more than 1,200 licensed personal care homes serving approximately 46,500 residents. As of today (May 12), residents of nursing homes and personal care homes have accounted for 11,801 of Pennsylvania’s 57,154 cases and 2,552 of the state’s 3,731 deaths associated with COVID-19. Another 1,655 cases have involved employees at these facilities.
Senate Bill 1122 also provides $31 million for a one-time grant to fire and EMS companies.
“These organizations have seen their fundraising efforts curtailed and revenues from non-emergency transportation services by EMS companies were basically eliminated by COVID-19,” Senator Corman said. “Unfortunately, many companies across Pennsylvania were financially struggling even before the outbreak. This grant program provides funding to allow Pennsylvania’s first responders to continue to answer the call when needed and keep their communities safe.”