Minority Press

Senators Casey, Menendez, Reps. Pascrell, Panetta Call for Greater Federal Resources to Support Nursing Homes During COVID-19 Crisis

Lawmakers: current “piecemeal policies do not amount to the coordinated, national action plan that is necessary to save lives”

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Ranking Member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), with U.S. Representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-9) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20) today pushed the Trump Administration for greater federal resources and guidance to support nursing homes and long-term care (LTC) facilities throughout the country as they combat the COVID-19 outbreak. Over 9,600 nursing homes and LTC facilities across the U.S. have reported COVID-19 cases and more than 40,000 residents and workers in LTC settings have died from the virus.

“While the persistent shortage of testing kits and delayed reporting and disclosure of COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes continue to obscure the full magnitude of this crisis, recent tragedies have made it painfully clear that our nursing homes are in dire need of additional federal support and guidance. Nursing home residents are among the most vulnerable during this public health emergency, but they cannot be protected when their facilities lack testing kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), and sufficient staff,” the federal lawmakers wrote in a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Administrator Seema Verma. “Additionally, many nursing homes do not have the resources to implement federal guidance to slow the spread of COVID-19. To avert further tragedies, we strongly urge you to address the dire needs of nursing home residents and staff as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The lawmakers called on the Administration to provide:

• A comprehensive national testing plan that includes providing testing kits for our Nation’s nursing homes;

• A strategy to ensure all nursing homes and LTC facilities have adequate personal protection equipment for their residents and staff;

• A plan to address staff shortages and guidance on how nursing homes can use separate staff and facilities for residents with COVID-19; and

• Greater resources for nursing homes so they can complete accurate and timely federal reports and provide updates to families of nursing home residents.

“We remain gravely concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in our nation’s nursing homes. Today no one is safe, from the residents trapped alone in their rooms to the underpaid staff members working without PPE. While many American communities are in dire need, our nation’s most vulnerable individuals cannot be overlooked in our efforts to defeat COVID-19,” the lawmakers concluded.

Also signing the letter were Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ed Markey (D-MA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tom Udall (D-NM), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Michael Bennet (D-CO).

Read the letter here.