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Pascrell, Sherrill, Menendez Introduce Oversight Overhaul for Pandemic-Plagued Nursing Homes

Health legislation will impose strong regulations to prevent future deadly outbreaks

U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11) and U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) today introduced their legislation to restore regulations regarding infection control and emergency preparedness in skilled nursing facilities and nursing facilities.

“The impact of COVID-19 on our nation has been devastating. The impact of the virus on our nursing homes has been cataclysmic,” said Rep. Pascrell. “The misery wrought on our seniors was exacerbated by the Trump regime repealing important regulations which caused years of unnecessary and unconscionable deregulation across the industry. The previous administration went out of its way to disregard safety and undermine accountability. Our legislation will protect residents now and prepare for future outbreaks. Importantly, this bill will mandate transparency so families can know their relatives are safe. Literally thousands of deaths in the last year were preventable. Families were kept in the dark. This cannot be allowed to happen again.”

“Ensuring the safety of our seniors and caregivers in nursing homes is absolutely essential,” said Rep. Sherrill. “But the last administration rolled back critical infection control measures that could have helped protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19. While nursing facility residents are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, the Trump administration’s actions allowed long-standing issues to proliferate in nursing facilities, exacerbating the situation for our nation’s seniors. We are reintroducing the PREPARE LTC Act to improve oversight, accountability, and safety in America’s long term care facilities.” 

“COVID-19 has been devastating, particularly for seniors and those living in nursing or long-term care facilities where the death toll has been an astounding over one-third of all lives lost to the pandemic in New Jersey,” said Sen. Menendez.  “It is critical that long-term care facilities are prepared to deal with infectious disease outbreaks within their walls and have programs in place to protect residents during emergencies.  Our bill not only requires these programs be instituted in every skilled nursing facility, but also strengthens oversight and transparency to help provide families greater of peace of mind that their loved ones are receiving proper care.”       

The Promoting Restoration of Emergency Preparedness and Advancing Response to Epidemics in Long-Term Care Act (PREPARE LTC Act) will 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.

Of the 451,000 Americans now dead from COVID-19, more than 136,000 Americans have died in nursing homes, including 7,500 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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