A newly formed Democratic House task force is calling for the immediate distribution of $100 million in funding to aid long-term care facilities in their infection control efforts amid COVID-19.
The House Democrats’ Task Force on Aging and Families is considering this effort along with other principles and priorities for future coronavirus pandemic relief legislation. Lawmakers are also calling on the Trump administration to ensure nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are part of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.
“Guided by these principles, the House Democratic Caucus Task Force on Aging and Families is working to ensure all seniors, their families and their caregivers — no matter who they are or where they live — are guaranteed a comprehensive standard of care and financial security to weather this public health crisis,” Task Force and Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries said in a joint statement.
The task force is also insisting that facilities have sufficient testing kits that accurately reports COVID-19 case data and adequate access to workers and personal protective equipment — which has been a major concern for providers throughout the pandemic response.
The American Health Care Association recently revealed that more than 70% of providers have been unable to find sufficient PPE supplies, like masks, gowns and face shields for healthcare workers.
“The reality is that many long term care providers are facing an unprecedented situation that has left them begging for testing, PPE and staffing resources. Just like hospitals, we have called for help. In our case, nobody has listened,” AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson added.
Infection control guidelines
The lawmakers also plan to ensure that adequate infection control guidelines are established to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within nursing and long-term care facilities and that the elimination of in-person inspections doesn’t leave patients vulnerable to neglect and abuse.
Additionally, the plan calls on the federal government to clarify discharge guidelines for non-COVID-19 Medicare and/or Medicaid patients.
Lawmakers also called on the Trump administration to require facilities to report all COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and fatalities to residents, families, state health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the general public to ensure transparency and accountability. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently announced that facilities would soon be required to report potential infectious disease outbreaks directly to the CDC.
Other principles laid out by the task force focus on guaranteeing access to affordable, equitable and comprehensive healthcare, ensuring seniors and their families have financial and retirement security, and food security.