Reps. Eshoo, Pascrell, Kelly & McKinley Re-Introduce Legislation to Reform Nursing Home Care Amid COVID-19

March 17, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today House Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) along with U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell (NJ-09), Mike Kelly (PA-16), and David McKinley (WV-01) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to protect long-term care residents and enhance accountability among the nation’s worst-performing facilities.

“COVID-19 has exposed the fatal consequences of the lack of resources and oversight in America’s nursing homes. To date, over 178,000 long-term care residents and staff have died of COVID-19. Just a few months ago a care facility in my District had a devastating outbreak, putting over 150 loved ones and caregivers in my community at risk. This is unacceptable,” said Rep. Eshoo. “Our bipartisan bill shines a spotlight on nursing homes with a history of poor performance and provides the funding and mandatory enforcement actions to better protect residents and staff. I urge my fellow members of Congress to pass this bill to stem the loss of life.”

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 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).

“The unspeakable harm that has been visited upon our nursing homes during the pandemic makes clear we must no longer tolerate allowing our senior communities to fall through the cracks,” said Rep. Pascrell. “In our state New Jersey we have witnessed grievous suffering in long-term care facilities. Federal deregulation and lack of oversight failed our seniors, our veterans, and our grandparents. This landmark bipartisan bill will impose accountability on those are entrusted to care for Americans seniors. We can no longer look the other way.”

“Western Pennsylvania is blessed with well-performing long term care facilities for our seniors who need it.  However, accountability and public reporting is crucial to pressure underperforming facilities to improve while also providing seniors and their families the tools to find the right nursing home for them. This bill is a win-win for our seniors and our community and I am proud to introduce this bi-partisan bill again this Congress,” said Rep. Kelly.

“The COVID pandemic has caused undue burden amongst our nation’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 174,000 residents and staff of nursing homes and long-term facilities have unnecessarily lost their lives,” said Rep McKinley. “This bipartisan legislation provides additional resources to underperforming facilities to ensure our nation’s vulnerable seniors will receive the quality of care they deserve.”

The Nursing Home Reform Modernization Act would increases educational resources for all underperforming facilities and establishes 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. She introduced H.R. 6872, the Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act, to 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. She successfully fought to include  funding for nursing home strike teams in the American Rescue Plan Act, which was signed into law last week.

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.