WASHINGTON – A recent report released by the Senate Finance Committee detailing the performance of nursing homes during the first eight months of the pandemic emphasizes the need for legislation to support nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Iowa and across the country that have been hit hard by COVID-19. In July, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) joined Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in putting forward the Emergency Support for Nursing Homes and Elder Justice Reform Act of 2020.
This legislation includes numerous provisions to help nursing homes by providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing in nursing homes. The bill would also establish strike teams that can rapidly respond to COVID–19-related crises in nursing homes and increase access to tele-visitation so that residents can stay connected to family and loved ones.
“Elderly Iowans are some of our most at-risk during COVID-19. We must ensure that our nursing homes and long-term care facilities have the resources and support they need to provide high quality care to residents both during and long after this pandemic,” said Senator Ernst. “This report sheds light on steps Congress can take to better protect nursing homes and their residents, including advancing legislation that I’m supporting to increase PPE and testing.”
The Senate Finance report recommends policies that will help address COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes and advises that a portion of federal COVID-19 relief assistance should be used for the purchase of personal protective equipment and to support diagnostic testing in nursing homes – something Ernst’s bill would help to ensure.
Aligned with the report’s recommendations, Ernst’s bill would also provide a continuation of elder justice programs that protect the health and safety of older Americans living in long-term care facilities. The bill would also increase resources to investigate elder abuse and neglect and provide services to victims.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Senator Ernst has been working to ensure Iowa’s seniors have the support they need during the pandemic, including hosting several telephone town halls. Ernst joined a bipartisan effort to expand health care access and virtual visitations for the state’s most at-risk individuals, and urged her colleagues to support her bipartisan Credit for Caring Act.