Minority Press

Casey: Congress Must Prioritize Policies That Protect Seniors From COVID-19

Casey Highlights Legislation to Help Stop the Spread of COVID-19 in Nursing Homes, Provide Premium Pay for Essential Workers on the Front Lines

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, held a hearing entitled, “Caring for Seniors Amid the COVID-19 Crisis.” During the hearing, Senator Casey highlighted his bill, the Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act, which would help mitigate the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on nursing homes by helping states purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing and fund premium pay, overtime and other essential benefits for nursing home workers.

“This unprecedented time calls for equally unprecedented action. The Administration has to do more and Congress has to do more to help our seniors and their families at every turn,” said Senator Casey. “This is why I’ve introduced the Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act to provide additional funding for testing, PPE and other resources. But, we are trying to help nursing home residents and workers with one hand tied behind our backs because the Administration is not releasing any data on outbreaks in these facilities. This is unconscionable. I urge my colleagues to act immediately to pass my bill and support other proposals that prioritize seniors and people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Nursing home residents have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and according to reports, more than 34,000 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19. In early April, Senator Casey called on the federal government to publicly release the list of facilities with known cases and deaths from COVID-19. In May, Sen. Casey secured a commitment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that they will collect and publicly share the data of cases and deaths among nursing home residents and workers. To date, CDC and CMS have not publicly shared this data.

In addition to his bill to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes, Senator Casey has introduced the COVID-19 Recovery for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act, which would ensure seamless access to Social Security, Medicare and nutrition benefits during the public health emergency and provide funding for senior legal services and education on COVID-19 frauds and scams.

Senator Casey secured $150 billion in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide much-needed funds for hospitals, nursing homes and community health centers. The CARES Act also included provisions from Senator Casey’s bill, the Coronavirus Relief for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act, to fund essential nutrition and other aging services and promote infection control in nursing homes.