Reps. Eshoo, Pascrell, Kelly, McKinley Lead Critical Legislation to Reform Nursing Home Care Amid Pandemic

December 18, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on America’s nursing homes, House Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) introduced bipartisan legislation to protect long-term care residents and enhance accountability among the nation’s worst-performing facilities.

More than 500 facilities nationwide have consistently failed to meet federal safety and care requirements. Of these 500, only a select few are chosen for the Special Focus Facility (SFF) program, which provides additional oversight and inspections. Led by Reps. Eshoo, Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Mike Kelly (R-PA-16), and David McKinley (R-WV-01), the Nursing Home Reform Modernization Act of 2020 will expand the SFF program and ensure that all facilities nominated for the program receive additional oversight, enforcement, and technical assistance. Companion Senate legislation has been introduced by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA).

“Over 100,000 long-term care residents and staff have died due to COVID-19. This staggering national tragedy requires immediate federal action to improve care and save lives in our nation’s nursing homes,” said Rep. Eshoo. “Our bipartisan bill shines a spotlight on nursing homes with a history of poor performance and provides the resources and oversight needed to better protect residents and staff. I urge my fellow members of Congress to pass this bill to stem the loss of life.”

“The devastation visited on long-term care facilities by COVID-19 has laid bare the need to improve the quality of care in America’s nursing homes. Our bipartisan bill will enhance accountability and ensure that residents receive the care, comfort, and peace of mind they deserve,” said Rep. Pascrell. “Here in New Jersey and throughout the country, facility residents and staff have suffered grievously. We refuse to remain silent as our seniors, veterans, grandparents, and others died due to failed oversight. Importantly, our bill will hold accountable those who we entrust to care for our older relatives, because for far too long, accountability has been lacking.”

“Determining which nursing home is right for you or a loved one is a difficult task, one made more challenging without the necessary information regarding compliance with safety and care requirements. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation will increase accountability for nursing homes that have underperformed in these areas and make that information public. Thank you to my colleagues in the House and Senate for working with me to empower seniors to confidently choose a nursing home that is right for them,” said Rep. Kelly.

“The COVID pandemic has shed a light on the need to improve the quality of care in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 300 West Virginia residents and staff in nursing homes and long-term care facilities have lost their lives to the virus,” said Rep McKinley. “Our bipartisan bill will provide greater oversight and resources to underperforming facilities to ensure our vulnerable seniors and veterans receive the quality of care they deserve. We have a duty to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep our seniors safe.”

The Nursing Home Reform Modernization Act of 2020 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 best to foster quality improvements.

Since the outset of the pandemic, Rep. Eshoo has fought for better standards of care and infection control in long-term care facilities. Rep. Eshoo introduced H.R. 6872, the Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act, which would allow states to invest in “strike teams” of health care providers to assist when a COVID-19 outbreak occurs, as well as funding for staffing, testing, and personal protective equipment. Rep. Eshoo has also led letters urging increased funding to protect and support Americans living and working in nursing homes and to demand answers from CMS about efforts to stop COVID-19 infections and deaths among nursing home residents.

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