The California Department of Social Services (DSS) recently released a new Provider Information Notice (PIN) 20-17 that offers to pay assisted living facilities, including Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs) and Adult Residential Facilities (ARFs), $1,000/day for taking COVID-19 patients. The PIN is another shocking misstep in the state’s long term care policy during the pandemic, putting current residents at severe risk of sickness and death.
CANHR was told by DSS representatives that its goal is to have COVID-19 residents of assisted living facilities, identified as testing frequency increases, transferred to COVID-19-only facilities to isolate them. Nonetheless, the PIN permits and maybe encourages mixing COVID-19 positive and negative residents in assisted living facilities.
The following is a partial list of the problems with the PIN:
- Moving COVID-19 positive patients into assisted living facilities jeopardizes the health and safety of all of the residents and staff in the building. Assisted living facilities are not health facilities and are inexpert at infection control. The CDC’s first recommendation to protect long term care facility residents is to keep COVID-19 out of the buildings.
- Paying a $1,000 / day bounty will attract providers with poor track records. The PIN does not state any standards for the facilities approved to take COVID-19 patients. Presumably, any facility can receive the bounty, regardless of its capacity to safely care for infectious residents.
- There is no indication of the legal status of the new COVID-19 patients, such as their rights as residents and what happens after they no longer have the virus.
California policymakers continue to look at long term care facilities as repositories for COVID-19 patients and is now willing to pay bounties for them. We suggest the state use that money to create special COVID-19-only facilities and stop risking the lives of long term care residents.