PROBLEM SOLVERS CAUCUS ENDORSES BILL TO BETTER PROTECT SENIORS IN LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES
WASHINGTON - Today, the Problem Solvers Caucus endorsed the Nursing Home Pandemic Protection Act of 2020 – a bill to codify into federal law new requirements that nursing homes report communicable diseases, infections, and potential outbreaks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and that residents and their families be kept informed of infections inside the facilities; as well as requiring facilities have both a crisis plan in place to manage an outbreak and a stockpile of personal protect equipment (PPE) on hand.
Problem Solvers, Reps. Josh Gottheimer and Chris Smith, introduced the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, they later brought the bill to the caucus for endorsement where more than 75 percent of the 50-member caucus agreed to support the bill.
Across the United States, approximately 15,600 nursing homes and long-term care facilities provide essential care for more than 1.3 million Americans. However, their close quarters and older resident populations make them uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19. Over 53,000 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19.
“In North Jersey, we've seen firsthand how COVID-19 outbreaks and improper infection control can devastate long-term care facilities and nursing homes. When this virus hits these vulnerable populations, it can spread like wildfire in nursing homes. I’ve heard too many stories from families that facility workers were not properly protected and that families simply didn’t know that their loved ones might be infected until it was too late,” said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Josh Gottheimer. “Now that the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus has endorsed our bill, we’re another important step closer to ensuring our nursing homes are prepared for the next crisis, including reporting outbreaks to our nation’s top infectious disease experts, stockpiling PPE, testing, and ensuring that residents and their loved ones are kept up to date.”
“We remain heartbroken and angry knowing that thousands of New Jersey’s veterans, Alzheimer’s patients, and others in long-term care lost their lives to COVID-19, and/or were infected due in large part to poor monitoring and questionable procedures at the state level,” said Rep. Chris Smith, lead co-sponsor of the bipartisan legislation. “The Nursing Home Pandemic Protection Act of 2020 will make permanent the effective protections established by the Trump Administration to ensure that long term care facilities meet new health care transparency and accountability standards. The bill would keep family members and medical personnel informed about a resident’s health and status, and make facilities better prepared with essential PPE to safeguard both residents and staff, and help combat the spread of viruses. It will help ensure that nursing homes are better prepared and residents and family members are not left to fend for themselves when state agencies fall short or offer flawed policies and directives. This bill ensures that key, new protocols established—as lessons learned in a crisis—will remain in place long after the coronavirus pandemic and before a future emergency might strike.”
“Tens of thousands of our nation’s parents and grandparents, as well as the selfless men and women who care for them, have died due to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic,” said Problem Solvers Co-Chair Rep. Tom Reed. “I am proud to join the Problem Solvers Caucus in endorsing the Nursing Home Pandemic Protection Act, which will help ensure that states like New York, which were beset by disastrous nursing homes directives, now have the plans, procedures, and infrastructure in place to better protect our nation’s most vulnerable population from future COVID resurgences.”
“Nursing homes and other congregate facilities are at increased risk of COVID-19, and we must strengthen oversight and safeguards in place to keep residents safe,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell. “This bipartisan legislation will establish protocols to better protect those most vulnerable to the current pandemic by improving readiness and ensuring that robust reporting requirements are in place to address any outbreak.”
“The health and well-being of our parents and grandparents is important to every American, especially during the stress created by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Rep. Tom O’Halleran. “I endorsed the Nursing Home Pandemic Protection Act to ensure long-term care facilities are accurately reporting COVID-19 outbreaks to both the CDC and residents’ families, are preparing properly with concrete crisis plans, and maintaining a stockpile of necessary PPE.”
“I am a proud cosponsor of the Nursing Home Pandemic Protection Act because we must do more to protect our seniors during this public health emergency,” said Rep. Elaine Luria. “By requiring facilities to have a crisis plan in place to manage an outbreak and a stockpile of PPE, those who reside and work in long-term care facilities and their loved ones can rest a bit easier.”
“This pandemic has already taken a severe toll on Americans in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Inadequate testing, poor reporting, and murky health and safety guidelines have led to countless COVID-19 deaths - deaths that were preventable,” said Rep. Susie Lee. “That’s why we need to take action now to guarantee our nursing homes are equipped to handle any future outbreaks. The Nursing Home Pandemic Protection Act will require COVID-19 data reporting, crisis plans to manage future outbreaks, stockpiles of PPE, and a plan to keep families informed of any nursing home outbreaks. We need to understand this pandemic is not yet in our rear view mirror. I’ll keep fighting to take every precaution possible to protect our most vulnerable Americans.”
The Nursing Home Pandemic Protection Act of 2020 will ensure that:
Long-term care facilities report communicable diseases, infections, and potential outbreaks to the CDC.
- The required collection of this information will be used to support surveillance of COVID-19 locally and nationally, monitor trends in infection rates, and inform public health policies and actions.
- This information may be retained and publicly reported in accordance with law.
Residents and their families are kept informed of outbreaks.
- At a minimum, nursing homes must inform residents and their families within 12 hours of the occurrence of a single confirmed infection of COVID-19, or three or more residents or staff with new-onset of respiratory symptoms that occur within 72 hours.
- Updates to residents and their families must be provided weekly, or each subsequent time a confirmed infection of COVID-19 is identified and/or whenever three or more residents or staff with new onset of respiratory symptoms occurs within 72 hours.
Long-term care facilities have a crisis plan in place to manage an outbreak of COVID-19 or other pandemics.
- Facilities must establish a crisis plan to manage the outbreak of COVID–19 and other public health emergencies. Plans should outline procedures relating to infection control, staffing, personal protective equipment (PPE), outside medical providers and hospitalizations, and communication with family members.
Long-term care facilities have a stockpile of PPE.
- Facilities must maintain a certain minimum amount of personal protect equipment (PPE) on hand to manage an outbreak of COVID-19 or other pandemics.