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Nursing Homes Get Extension On Payments

empty bed in a nursing home
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Florida nursing homes, strapped for funds amid the coronavirus pandemic, have been given an extension on paying $36 million in taxes to the state.

Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew granted the extension late Tuesday, issuing an executive order giving the facilities another 30 days, until May 20, to make the payments.

Earlier, Tom Parker, director of reimbursement for the Florida Health Care Association, asked Mayhew whether the state could provide nursing homes some “relief” from the April 20 deadline for paying the bed taxes, known in the industry as assessments, on services provided in March.

“We are getting lots of questions from providers about provider assessment relief and if it will be granted,” Parker said during an industry phone call Tuesday afternoon with Mayhew.

“Providers are obviously in a position where they have to send checks in today or tomorrow to meet the deadline of the 20th. They are kind of up against deadlines there. So any update you can provide on that?”

Mayhew replied: “Hold on sending those checks.”

The executive order was issued hours later. Florida in 2009 passed a law that authorized the state to levy a tax or assessment on most nursing home care not funded by Medicare. The state uses the money to help draw down supplemental federal Medicaid dollars.

The law requires that the dollars be redirected back to the nursing homes and not be diverted for other purposes. Mayhew’s executive order addresses payments due to the state April 20, which were calculated based on the nursing-home bed census for March.

In a statement to The News Service of Florida, Parker said the 30-day extension will give nursing homes additional time to “account for the cash flow issues” that they are facing as the industry responds to the coronavirus.

Costs are increasing as providers have hired additional staff to conduct health screenings for staff and visitors. Nursing homes also have faced increased overtime costs, and facilities are purchasing more personal protective equipment than in the past.

“All of this is being done at current funding levels, while at the same time we are seeing occupancy decreases due to elimination of elective surgeries” and having to be cautious with admissions, Parker said.