It’s no secret that nursing homes and long-term care facilities have been at the epicenter of some of the biggest Covid-19 outbreaks in the U.S.
Over 100,000 residents and workers in such facilities have died from the virus, with the first outbreak recorded as early as February.
That’s why Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), along with three of her House colleagues, this past week unveiled nursing home reform legislation, complementing efforts from Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey. The Nursing Home Reform Modernization Act of 2020 aims to enhance accountability among the nation’s poorest performing nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
According to the release from Eshoo’s office, more than 500 facilities nationwide have failed to meet federal care and safety requirements, adding that out of those facilities, “only a select few” are chosen for the Special Focus Facility (SFF) program, which provides additional oversight and inspections.
This latest piece of legislation would expand the SFF program and “ensure that all facilities nominated for the program receive additional oversight, enforcement and educational resources on how best to foster quality improvements.”
Eshoo, who represents California’s 18th Congressional District in Silicon Valley, cited the inordinate amount of deaths in long-term care facilities in urging her colleagues to pass the bipartisan bill.
“This staggering national tragedy requires immediate federal action to improve care and save lives in our nation’s nursing homes,” she said. “Our bipartisan bill shines a spotlight on nursing homes with a history of poor performance and provides the resources and oversight needed to better protect residents and staff.”
Since the pandemic began, Eshoo has been all-in fighting for better standards of care in long-term care facilities. She previously introduced HR 6872, the Nursing Home Covid-19 Protection and Prevention Act, which would allow states to invest in “strike teams” of health care providers to assist when a Covid-19 outbreak occurs, as well as funding for staffing, testing and personal protective equipment.
Last June, she sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging them to include key policies and dedicated funding in the coronavirus relief package to protect workers in long-term care facilities. In her latest piece of legislation, Eshoo worked with Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-New Jersey), Mike Kelly (R-Pennsylvania) and David McKinley (R-West Virginia) to expand the SFF program.
“The devastation visited on long-term care facilities by Covid-19 has laid bare the need to improve the quality of care in America’s nursing homes,” Pascrell said.
He added: “We refuse to remain silent as our seniors, veterans, grandparents and others die due to failed oversight.”