Harder to Introduce Bill Guaranteeing Universal Coronavirus Testing at Nursing Homes
WASHINGTON – Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) announced that this week he will introduce the Nursing Home Pandemic Safety Act of 2020, legislation which will require nursing homes to test residents and employees with the help of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The bill would require HHS to enter into contracts with test producers to procure tests specifically designated for nursing homes and skilled nursing homes. It would also explicitly require facilities to make tests available to residents and staff.
“Nursing homes are the epicenter of this pandemic – residents are at higher risk because of their age, preexisting conditions, and their close proximity – we have to prioritize testing at these facilities,” said Rep. Harder. “The federal response has been terrible. CMS has been asleep at the wheel and seniors across the country have paid the ultimate price as a result. We need to care for our most vulnerable, and that starts with testing.”
A single nursing home in Rep. Harder’s district has seen nearly 20 deaths and over 100 infections. The outbreak started with the infection of a single staff member which quickly spread throughout the facility.
Nursing homes have also become hotbeds of infection across California. The most recent data available indicate that nearly 900 nursing home residents and health care workers have died of Coronavirus – almost a third of all deaths in the state. However, media inquiries have suggested that nursing homes are underreporting rates of infection and mortality. By the end of May, nursing homes will be required to disclose data on infections and deaths to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or face fines.
Earlier this month, Rep. Harder sent a letter to the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) slamming the agency’s response and demanding quicker action.