Senators Toomey and Casey Unveil Bipartisan Nursing Home Reform Legislation
As the worst pandemic in a century ravages nursing homes and long-term care facilities, U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) are introducing a bipartisan bill to enhance accountability among the Nation’s poorest performing nursing homes.
This national tragedy has reinforced the urgent need to improve care quality in a subset of nursing homes that persistently fall short. Currently, there are more than 500 facilities nationwide that have consistently failed to meet federal safety and care requirements. Of those facilities, only a maximum of 88 are chosen to participate in the Special Focus Facility (SFF) program, which provides additional oversight and inspections. Drawing on the Senators’ groundbreaking 2019 investigation, the Nursing Home Reform Modernization Act of 2020 would expand the SFF program to ensure that all facilities nominated as candidates for the SFF program can receive additional oversight and enforcement, as well as technical assistance and educational programming.
“Two of every three Pennsylvanians to die from COVID-19 were residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Unfortunately, some of the largest outbreaks occurred in facilities with records of persistent failure to protect their residents,” said Senator Toomey. “This new bipartisan legislation will provide greater oversight and resources to systemically underperforming nursing homes. The Senate should pass this bill without delay.”
“Since the first outbreak of COVID-19 at a nursing facility in February, more than 94,000 residents and workers in nursing homes and long-term care facilities have died from the virus. We have an imperative to help nursing homes residents and workers amid this public health crisis, and we must also improve care quality in nursing facilities—especially those that have a consistent pattern of failing safety and care standards. We have an obligation to these residents and workers to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19 and keep them safe,” said Senator Casey. “I urge my colleagues to pass this bipartisan bill immediately.”
“AARP is pleased to support the bipartisan Nursing Home Reform Modernization Act of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted the ongoing importance of safeguarding the quality of care, quality of life, health, safety, and well-being of nursing home residents and staff. This bill would identify and increase transparency around nursing homes with a history of serious quality issues, and ensure they receive more frequent inspections. The legislation also includes vital consumer protections to help ensure appropriate oversight and accountability for nursing homes,” said Bill Sweeney, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for AARP.
The Nursing Home Reform Modernization Act of 2020 would also increase educational resources for all underperforming facilities and establish an independent Advisory Council to inform the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on how best to foster quality improvements.
In 2019, Senators Casey and Toomey released a report detailing persistent problems at underperforming nursing homes. This report revealed examples of abuse and neglect in facilities affiliated with the SFF program, and, for the first time, made public a list of nursing homes that qualify for enhanced oversight through the SFF program. Subsequently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) committed to releasing the names of these nursing homes on a monthly basis.