As the COVID-19 pandemic impacts nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the nation, Sens. Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R) are leading the way in a new reform effort.
According to the release, more than 500 facilities across the nation have “consistently failed to meet federal safety and care requirements,” adding that of those facilities, only a maximum of 88 are chosen to participate in the Special Focus Facility (SFF) program, which provides additional oversight and inspection.
This legislation would expand the SFF program to “ensure that all facilities nominated as candidates for the SFF program can receive additional oversight and enforcement, as well as technical assistance and educational programming.”
This legislation builds upon their 2019 joint effort that uncovered poor care in nursing homes across the nation.
Casey and Toomey cited Pennsylvania and national statistics in their push to urge their colleagues to pass the bipartisan bill immediately.
“Since the first outbreak of COVID-19 at a nursing facility in February, more than 94,000 residents and workers in nursing homes and long-term care facilities have died from the virus. We have an imperative to help nursing homes residents and workers amid this public health crisis, and we must also improve care quality in nursing facilities—especially those that have a consistent pattern of failing safety and care standards,” Casey said. “We have an obligation to these residents and workers to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19 and keep them safe.”
“Two of every three Pennsylvanians to die from COVID-19 were residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Unfortunately, some of the largest outbreaks occurred in facilities with records of persistent failure to protect their residents,” said Toomey. “This new bipartisan legislation will provide greater oversight and resources to systemically underperforming nursing homes.”
The bill also has the backing of the AARP, which offered words of support in the unveiling of the legislation.
“AARP is pleased to support the bipartisan Nursing Home Reform Modernization Act of 2020,” said Bill Sweeney, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for AARP. “The COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted the ongoing importance of safeguarding the quality of care, quality of life, health, safety, and well-being of nursing home residents and staff.”
“This bill would identify and increase transparency around nursing homes with a history of serious quality issues, and ensure they receive more frequent inspections,” Sweeney continued. “The legislation also includes vital consumer protections to help ensure appropriate oversight and accountability for nursing homes.”
The release adds that the legislation would also increase educational resources for all underperforming facilities and establish an independent Advisory Council to inform the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on how best to foster quality improvements.