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Pascrell, Sherrill Tout New Legislation to Increase Oversight in Pandemic-Plagued Nursing Homes

Bills will impose strong regulations to prevent future deadly outbreaks

U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11) this afternoon spoke with the Passaic Senior Center and Donna Griff and Dana Mooney, the daughters of a long-term care facility resident who died from COVID-19. In the interest of safety, the event was held remotely.

“Nursing homes have been hammered by this virus with tolls that can only be categorized as cataclysmic,” said Rep. Pascrell. “The devastation has been made worse by years of Trump government deregulation that disregarded resident health and safety and undermined accountability. Our legislation will impose new ironclad requirements to protect residents now and prepare for future outbreaks later. Importantly, our bills will block corrupt governments from gutting transparency so families can know their relatives are safe. Thousands of deaths were preventable. What has happened in 2020 must never be allowed to occur again.”

"Too many people have died in nursing homes during the COVID pandemic, but it didn’t have to be this way," said Rep. Sherrill. "A lack of PPE, the Trump administration's rollbacks of protections, and generally, a callous approach to the well-being of our seniors resulted in tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths. We’ve introduced this legislation so that, moving forward, nursing homes will be better prepared, and residents and workers will be better protected against infectious disease outbreaks. It will increase oversight of nursing homes to make sure they are prepared for pandemics, and if they’re not, states have the funding and directive to more closely monitor them and fix problems."

A recording of Rep. Pascrell’s remarks is available here.

The Promoting Restoration of Emergency Preparedness and Advancing Response to Epidemics in Long-Term Care Act (PREPARE LTC Act) would restore regulations regarding infection control and emergency preparedness in skilled nursing facilities and nursing facilities.

This legislation would require facilities to establish and maintain an infection prevention program and an emergency plan to protect residents during emergency situations. The bill prevents the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services from waiving or suspending staffing reporting and critical inspections during a pandemic. The PREPARE LTC Act would also mandate that any reporting developed for COVID-19 include information on infectious disease outbreaks within nursing facilities.

Additionally, Reps. Pascrell and Sherrill have introduced the Protecting Residents with Oversight, Transparency, and Enforcement for Compassionate Treatment in Long-Term Care (PROTECT LTC Act). It would provide $100 million for increased oversight of nursing homes. The bill would increase penalties for nursing homes that do not provide adequate protection to residents. Under the PROTECT LTC Act, state oversight agencies would be required to complete a standard assessment within four weeks of an outbreak and every six months afterward.

Of the 220,000 American dead from COVID-19, more than 75,000 Americans have died in nursing homes, including 7,000 in New Jersey alone. While nursing facility residents are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, existing gaps were exacerbated by Trump administration actions that rolled back protections for nursing home residents.

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