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Shaheen Proposes Bipartisan Bill to Protect Residents and Contain Spread of COVID-19 in Nursing Homes

Shaheen-Sponsored Legislation is Endorsed by AARP and Would Provide $20 Billion to Keep Residents and Workers Safe

(Washington, DC) – As more than 20,000 nursing homes residents and workers have died due to COVID-19 and at a time when nursing home residents account for more than 70 percent of COVID-19 deaths in New Hampshire, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) last week to propose a bill that would provide $20 billion to help states, nursing homes and intermediate care facilities contain the spread of COVID-19. The Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act would help states implement strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in congregate settings, including through the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing and to support nursing home workers with premium pay, overtime and other essential benefits.

“More than 70 percent of the lives lost to COVID-19 in New Hampshire were Granite Staters residing in nursing homes. This heartbreaking statistic underscores the urgent need to prioritize support and protection for residents and workers in long-term care facilities throughout the state,” said Shaheen. “This legislation would address a number of serious challenges in long-term care facilities – from safeguarding the health of personnel and providing them with the personal protective equipment they need, to ramping up testing and creating best practices to keep residents, workers and facilities safe. I appreciate Senator Casey’s leadership on this effort and will keep working on legislation that provides relief and assistance to those who need it most during this challenging time.” 

“AARP supports the draft of the Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act that would help protect the health and save the lives of people in nursing homes and other facilities by supporting testing, personal protective equipment, staffing and more. The proposal would also improve public transparency and help protect the rights of residents and their families. Congress should act immediately to stem the loss of life and slow the spread of the virus,” said Megan O’Reilly, Vice President of Government Affairs for AARP.  

COVID-19 poses an immediate threat to more than 1.3 million Americans who live in nursing homes. This is particularly concerning in New Hampshire, which has one of the largest populations of senior citizens. States, nursing homes and other facilities are implementing innovative strategies to slow the spread of coronavirus, like through cohorting practices intended to safely separate residents with COVID-19 from those who do not have the virus and through ‘strike’ or ‘surge’ teams of health care providers who come in to assist when a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in a facility. The Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act would help implement these strategies by:

  • Providing $20 billion in emergency funding for staffing, testing, PPE and more;
  • Requiring HHS to develop guidance on cohorting best practices, including on how to safeguard resident rights; and
  • Instructing HHS to collect and publish data on COVID-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes and intermediate care facilities.

Senator Shaheen has worked to prioritize measures that would protect and support seniors and the most at-risk populations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In early March, Shaheen and a group of Senators pressed Vice President Pence and the Coronavirus Task Force for answers on their preparedness and response plans to protect nursing home residents, workers and their families. Senator Shaheen has also pushed the administration for information on the distribution of critical medical supplies and personal protective equipment to those on the frontlines, including nursing homes, amid the pandemic. Senator Shaheen continues to call for additional support for nursing homes in future coronavirus relief legislation.