More Than 178,000 Nursing Home and Long-Term Care Facility Residents and Workers Have Died From COVID-19; Accounting for 34 Percent of All COVID-Related Deaths
Washington, D.C. – One year into the worst pandemic in a century, nursing homes and long-term care facilities have been ravaged by the deadly virus. U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced a bipartisan bill to enhance accountability among the Nation’s poorest performing nursing homes. This national tragedy has reinforced the urgent need to improve care quality in a subset of nursing homes that persistently fall short. Currently, there are more than 500 facilities nationwide that have consistently failed to meet federal safety and care requirements. Of those facilities, only a maximum of 88 are chosen to participate in the Special Focus Facility (SFF) program, which provides additional oversight and inspections. Drawing on the Senators’ groundbreaking 2019 investigation, the Nursing Home Reform Modernization Act of 2021 would expand the SFF program to ensure that all facilities nominated as candidates for the program can receive additional oversight and enforcement, as well as technical assistance and educational programming.
“Since the start of the pandemic, more than 178,000 residents and workers in nursing homes and long-term care facilities have died from the virus. We have a moral obligation to learn from this profound tragedy and deliver commonsense solutions,” said Senator Casey. “We must also improve the quality of care in nursing homes—especially those that are consistently failing to meet health and safety standards required by the federal government. Residents in long-term care facilities deserve a safe place to live. I urge my colleagues to pass this bipartisan bill immediately.”
“Over half of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities. Unfortunately, some of the largest outbreaks occurred in facilities with records of persistent failure to protect their residents,” said Senator Toomey. “Even while vaccinating seniors helps us turn the corner on the pandemic, this bipartisan legislation remains as important as ever. Over the last month, AARP ranks Pennsylvania as having the fourth highest rate of COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents in the country. The Senate should pass this bill without delay.”
“On behalf of the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE), we are pleased to support the Nursing Home Reform Modernization Act of 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has been tragic for nursing home residents in Pennsylvania and throughout the country, shining a light on the longstanding need to improve care,” said Diane Menio, Executive Director of CARIE. “Senator Casey and Senator Toomey’s bipartisan bill provides a promising new focus to improve quality of care for all nursing home residents.”
The Nursing Home Reform Modernization Act of 2021 would also increase educational resources for all underperforming facilities and establish an independent Advisory Council to inform the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on how to best rank nursing homes to foster quality improvements.
In 2019, Senators Casey and Toomey released a report detailing persistent problems at underperforming nursing homes. This report revealed examples of abuse and neglect in facilities affiliated with the SFF program, and, for the first time, made public a list of nursing homes that qualify for enhanced oversight through the SFF program. Subsequently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) committed to releasing the names of these nursing homes on a monthly basis.
Read more about the Nursing Home Reform Modernization Act of 2021 here.