Senator Bennet unveils new bill to improve nursing homes

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(AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura, File)

WASHINGTON– Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet introduced a bill today to update the federal nursing home policy in order to improve care and oversight in nursing homes post-COVID-19 pandemic.

Bennet said, “We’ve learned about multiple cases of abuse, failures, and other mishandlings by long-term care facilities across the country that go back years prior to this public health crisis. That’s why I’m glad to join my colleagues in introducing this critical legislation that will improve oversight of these facilities, address staffing issues, and provide residents, families, and staff with the transparency they deserve.”

The bill is called the Nursing Home Improvement and Accountability Act and plans to modernize nursing homes through internal structural change, fill gaps in care staffing, improve accountability and more. A report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General found that 71% of the nation’s 15,295 nursing homes have not been surveyed on their safety and quality of care since the start of the pandemic.

Part of the bill’s legislation would include a registered nurse being required to be available 24 hours a day, a minimum requirement of staff, a full-time infection control and prevention specialist on staff, a wage raise for personnel and more Medicaid resources to be made available to residents.

report from the Government Accountability Office found that only 25% of facilities met staffing thresholds the federal government has said are needed to avoid quality problems. It also found that from June 2020 to January 2021, all nursing homes in Colorado had an outbreak lasting at least a week, while approximately 87% of nursing homes in Colorado had outbreaks longer than 5 weeks.

Almost one in three COVID-19 deaths in the United States were connected to nursing homes.

To read the bill in its entirety, click here. To read the bill’s summary, click here.

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