Schakowsky Fights To Keep Nursing Home Residents And Staff Safe During Covid-19 Through Heroes Act

May 12, 2020
Press Release

EVANSTON, IL – Today, Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chair of the Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, applauded the introduction of H.R. 6800, the Heroes Act, in the House of Representatives, which includes provisions of her Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents and Workers During COVID-19 Act (H.R. 6698) introduced last week and provisions of her Advancing Connectivity during the Coronavirus to Ensure Support for Seniors (ACCESS) Act (H.R. 6487) introduced last month. If enacted, the legislation will protect the health and well-being of those living and working in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

 

“I introduced the Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents and Workers During COVID-19 Act and the ACCESS Act to comprehensively address the critical issues facing individuals who rely on nursing homes for their lives and livelihoods during this national emergency. With key pieces from my legislation included in the broad package released today, we will take a first step to ensuring that long-term care residents and workers are adequately protected from COVID-19. The Heroes Act provides $150 million for the deployment of expert strike teams to nursing homes struggling with COVID-19 cases; mandates transparency and demographic-specific reporting of COVID-19 cases, fatalities, and other essential data; prioritizes testing for older Americans and individuals with disabilities; enhances the ability of nursing home residents to virtually connect with their loves ones, and creates new, COVID-19 only facilities with criteria that prioritize resident safety,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “Though there are other significant provisions I wanted us to include in the Heroes Act to uplift families and workers throughout the United States, I look forward to voting to pass this legislation so we can ensure a comprehensive response to the COVID-19 crisis for long-term care residents, staff, and their families.”

 

In the Heroes Act, Schakowsky secured:

  • $150 million for States to establish and implement strike teams to deploy to skilled nursing facilities or nursing facilities within 72 hours of three residents or employees being diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19.
  • A mandate for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to collect and publicly report data on suspected and confirmed COVID-19 infections among long-term care facilities’ residents and staff; total deaths and COVID-19 deaths among facility residents and staff; personal protective equipment and hand hygiene supplies in the facility; ventilator capacity and supplies available in the facility; resident beds and census; access to COVID-19 testing; and staffing shortages.
  • A mandate for the Trump Administration to develop a specific strategy to ensure COVID-19 testing is accessible to older Americans, people with disabilities, and individuals with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems—all individuals who often reside in long-term care facilities.
  • A requirement that long-term care facilities ensure their residents can engage in “televisitation” with loved ones while in-person visits are not possible during the COVID-19 emergency period.
  • The creation of COVID-19 specific long-term care facilities, including safety and quality protections for residents of those facilities.
  • Additional assistance to long-term care facilities struggling with infection control through Medicare’s Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs).

The bicameral Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents and Workers During COVID-19 Act (H.R. 6698/S. 3644) protects the health and well-being of those living and working in nursing homes by increasing infection control and prevention, testing, and personal protective equipment; surging funding for strike teams to the hardest hit nursing homes; mandating transparency and reporting of COVID-19 cases and fatalities; and requiring the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to conduct better oversight, including inspections and guidance. H.R. 6698 currently has 21 cosponsors in the House of Representatives.

The bicameral and bipartisan Advancing Connectivity during the Coronavirus to Ensure Support for Seniors (ACCESS) Act (H.R. 6487/S. 3517) protects nursing home residents from risking exposure to coronavirus by increasing their access to remote health care and enhancing their ability to connect with loved ones online. H.R. 6487 currently has 53 bipartisan cosponsors in the House of Representatives.

###