An older person's pills (Photo: Scott Eells/Bloomberg)

Efforts to keep older people in apartments of their own may be saving many of them from the virus that causes COVID-19.

Analysts with the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care (NIC) have reported data supporting that finding, in a summary of results from a survey of 105 senior housing and care operators.

Some participants provide more than one type of long-term care (LTC) services. The sample includes 56 assisted living facility managers and 29 nursing home managers, along with providers of some other types of services.

Assisted living facility managers reported that they had tested 22% of the residents as of May 31, and that just 1.5% had confirmed positive, or suspected positive, COVID-19 tests.

The nursing home managers had tested 34% of their residents, and about 6.7% of the residents tested had confirmed or suspected positive tests.

Resources

  • A  collection of resources related to the House Ways and Means health subcommittee hearing, including a video recording of the hearing, is available here.
  • An article about what a health policy specialist said about COVID-19 and nursing homes is available here.

NIC tried to standardize the data by having all participants report data snapshots for May 31.

Brian Jurutka, the NIC’s president, said in a comments on the survey result that each type of facility serves different people and provides different types of care.

“Each must be considered separately to form and implement a sector-wide response,” Jurutka said.

Analysts at the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity have estimated that, as of June 19, about 43% of the people who have died from COVID-19 in the United States have been in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Many consumers who have private long-term care insurance (LTCI) policies, short-term care insurance policies, or life insurance policies or annuities that provide LTC benefits try to use the policy benefits to stay at home as long as possible, or to live in the least restrictive possible LTC setting.

The NIC survey results support the possibility that access to private LTCI and LTC benefits may have shielded some insureds from the COVID-19 outbreak.

The House Hearing

Witnesses touched, briefly, on the impact of different of LTC services payers Thursday, during a hearing on the effects of COVID-19 on nursing homes. The hearing was organized by the House Ways and Means health subcommittee.

Nicole Howell, executive director for Ombudsman Services of Contra Costa Inc., said COVID-19 attacks vulnerable citizens through holes in U.S. safety net services.”

“Long-term care is paid for in two primary ways,” Howell testified at the hearing, which was conducted on the web and streamed live on the web. “Sometimes with income and savings, or long-term care insurance, but often times, more likely, with government dollars.”

Assisted living facilities in Contra Costa, California, cost at least $5,000 per month, and that means many older people end up depending on Medicaid nursing home benefits, Howell said.

Medicare pays for short stays in nursing homes for people recovering from acute illnesses. It pays about $600 per day for skilled nursing facility care in Contra Costa, Howell said.

Medicaid, in contrast, typically pays less than $200 per day, Howell said.

“A particularly callous administrator remarked recently that they could make more running a doggie daycare than they can with a Medicaid resident,” Howell said.

— Read Nursing Home Is Faulted Over Care After Stormon ThinkAdvisor.

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