Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s office today announced that the Senator and Bob Casey (D-PA) are proposing a bill that would provide $20 billion to help states, nursing homes, and intermediate care facilities contain the spread of COVID-19.
The Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act would support state efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in congregate settings, including through the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing, and to provide nursing home workers with premium pay, overtime, and other essential benefits.
“In nursing homes in Rhode Island and across the country, frontline staff are doing heroic work under very challenging circumstances,” said Whitehouse. in the announcement “We need to get vastly more personal protective equipment and tests to nursing homes, which care for the patients who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus. Our legislation would also help states fund surge teams, sending additional staff reinforcements to facilities where they are needed to care for patients and prevent infection.”
As of Monday, 11,450 Rhode Islanders had tested positive for COVID-19, and there had been 430 COVID-19 associated fatalities.
According to Whitehouse’s office, COVID-19 poses an immediate threat to the more than 1.3 million Americans, including more than 7,000 Rhode Islanders, who live in nursing homes. States, nursing homes, and other facilities are implementing strategies to slow the spread of coronavirus, including separating residents with COVID-19 from those who do not have the virus and creating ‘surge’ teams of health care providers who are called in to assist when a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in a facility.
“AARP supports the draft of the Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act that would help protect the health and save the lives of people in nursing homes and other facilities by supporting testing, personal protective equipment, staffing and more. The proposal would also improve public transparency and help protect the rights of residents and their families. Congress should act immediately to stem the loss of life and slow the spread of the virus,” said Megan O’Reilly, Vice President of Government Affairs for AARP in a statement.
The Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act would:
· Provide $20 billion in emergency funding for staffing, testing, PPE and more;
· Require HHS to develop guidance on cohorting best practices, including on how to safeguard resident rights;
· Instruct HHS to collect and publish data on COVID-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes and intermediate care facilities; and
· Fund surge teams of nurses, aides, and other critical staff to fill in at facilities where multiple residents and staff members have been infected.