Minority Press

Casey, Whitehouse Propose Bill to Slow the Spread of COVID-19 in Nursing Homes

Bill Would Provide $20 Billion to Keep Residents and Workers Safe


Washington, D.C. – As more than 20,000 nursing homes residents and workers have died due to COVID-19, according to the latest reports, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today proposed a bill to provide $20 billion to help states, nursing homes and intermediate care facilities contain the spread of COVID-19. The Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act would help states implement strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in congregate settings, including through the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing and to support nursing home workers with premium pay, overtime and other essential benefits.

“This virus spares no state, no county, no facility. The unprecedented crisis unfolding in our Nation’s nursing homes demands an immediate, extraordinary response. Reports indicate nursing home residents and workers account for roughly 1 in 4 deaths from COVID-19 in the United States,” said Senator Casey. “The Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act would provide $20 billion in emergency funding to devise a sorely needed national, coordinated response to stem the spread of this terrible virus in nursing homes and intermediate care facilities.”

“In nursing homes in Rhode Island and across the country, frontline staff are doing heroic work under very challenging circumstances,” said Senator Whitehouse. “We need to get vastly more personal protective equipment and tests to nursing homes, which care for the patients who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus. Our legislation would also help states fund surge teams, sending additional staff reinforcements to facilities where they are needed to care for patients and prevent infection.”

“AARP supports the draft of the Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act that would help protect the health and save the lives of people in nursing homes and other facilities by supporting testing, personal protective equipment, staffing and more. The proposal would also improve public transparency and help protect the rights of residents and their families. Congress should act immediately to stem the loss of life and slow the spread of the virus,” said Megan O’Reilly, Vice President of Government Affairs for AARP.

“Day in and day out, we are hearing from families across Pennsylvania who fear for the safety of loved ones living in nursing homes. For those who call a nursing facility home, catching COVID-19 can be deadly. I applaud Senator Casey, Senator Whitehouse and their Senate colleagues for releasing the Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act,” said Diane Menio, Executive Director of the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE).”This important legislation would put federal resources behind personal protective equipment, testing, cohorting strategies, strike teams and more, all while protecting residents’ rights. This is the comprehensive strategy we need to save lives and stem the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes.”

COVID-19 poses an immediate threat to more than 1.3 million Americans who live in nursing homes. States, nursing homes and other facilities are implementing innovative strategies to slow the spread of coronavirus, like through cohorting practices intended to safely separate residents with COVID-19 from those who do not have the virus and through ‘strike’ or ‘surge’ teams of health care providers who come in to assist when a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in a facility. The Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act would help implement these strategies by:

• Providing $20 billion in emergency funding for staffing, testing, PPE and more;

• Requiring HHS to develop guidance on cohorting best practices, including on how to safeguard resident rights; and

• Instructing HHS to collect and publish data on COVID-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes and intermediate care facilities.

Read the one pager here.
Read the bill text here.