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June 29, 2021

In this Issue:

  1. Roundtable on Essential Caregivers Act, Consumer Voice Makes Statement in Support
  2. Consumer Voice to Release Reports on Surveys of Nursing Home Residents and Their Families
  3. A Framework for Nursing Home Reform Post COVID-19
  4. OIG on the Impact of COVID-19 on Nursing Home Residents
  5. What to Expect at the Consumer Voice Virtual Conference in November
  6. Members of Congress to Introduce Better Care Better Jobs Act

Roundtable on Essential Caregivers Act, Consumer Voice Makes Statement in Support

Representatives Claudia Tenney and John Larson will be hosting a roundtable discussion at the U.S. Capitol on June 30th from 3pm-4:30pm ET for congressional staff and members of Congress, discussing the importance of the Essential Caregivers Act  (H.R. 3733). This bipartisan legislation would ensure that all nursing home residents have access to "essential caregivers" to provide care, support, and companionship even if visitation is shut down in a public health emergency.  The event will be live streamed on Representative Tenney's Facebook page

Read Consumer Voice's statement supporting the legislation.

Consumer Voice to Release Reports on Surveys of Nursing Home Residents and Their Families

Despite the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccinations, the precipitous decline of COVID-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes, and the relaxation of some visitation restrictions, residents and families continue to face limitations on visitation and daily activities.  In January, Consumer Voice released a report detailing the devastating effects of lockdowns on nursing home residents. Six months later, Consumer Voice is still hearing from residents and families that residents are suffering from visitation limitations.  Additionally, residents continue to be significantly limited in their activities inside facilities, including being confined to their rooms, being unable to dine communally, and having little or no group activities.  

In May, Consumer Voice began to survey both residents and families to gauge the current effects of visitation and activity limitations in nursing homes.  Families continue to report severe physical and mental decline of residents worsened by arbitrarily applied visitation policies. In addition, residents said they faced significant barriers to visitation and were struggling with isolation inside the facility because of limits on movement and group activities.  

Tomorrow, Consumer Voice will release reports on both surveys. The reports, Limitations on Visitation and Daily Activities Negatively Impact the Lives of Nursing Home Residents: A Survey of Residents and Limitations on Visitation Continue to Harm Nursing Home Residents: A Survey of Residents' Families show that limitations on visitation and daily activities continue to harm residents. The reports’ findings also support Consumer Voice’s call for the lifting of all restrictions on visitation.

A Framework for Nursing Home Reform Post COVID-19

Consumer Voice, along with California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Justice in Aging, Long Term Care Community Coalition, and Michigan Elder Justice Initiative, have created a framework for nursing home reform post COVID-19.  

To address the longstanding problems in the long-term care system, as well as those exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we provide a baseline framework with recommendations in six critical areas that need reform:

  1. Staffing and workforce;
  2. Regulation and enforcement;
  3. Ownership and management standards, transparency, and accountability for quality;
  4. Government payment systems, financial transparency, and accountability;
  5. Structural changes in the long-term care delivery system; and
  6. Nursing home redesign and rebuilding.

Read our recommendations.

OIG on the Impact of COVID-19 on Nursing Home Residents

This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a data snapshot detailing the devastating impact of COVID-19 on Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes.  The OIG used Medicare claims data to find that of the roughly 3.1 million Medicare beneficiaries that were residents in nursing homes in 2020, 42% had or likely had COVID-19.  Additionally, the report found that the pandemic had a deadly effect on all Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes, not just those with COVID-19.  

For Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes, the snapshot reveals that:

  • The overall mortality rate in nursing homes rose over 32% in 2020, resulting in 162,921 more deaths in 2020 than if the mortality rate had remained the same in 2019.  In April alone, 30,000 more residents died in 2020 than in 2019.
  • Residents of color were more likely to become infected with COVID-19 than White residents. Additionally, although the mortality rates of all racial groups grew, people of color experienced the highest increase.
  • 56% of residents eligible for Medicare and Medicaid (“dual-eligibles”) had or likely had COVID-19, while the infection rate for Medicare-only residents was 29%.

See the Data Snapshot.

What to Expect at the Consumer Voice Virtual Conference in November

Join us November 3-5, 2021 for the Consumer Voice Virtual Annual Conference! What can you expect at the conference?

  • Expert speakers with extensive knowledge in their field;
  • Updates on the most current policy information;
  • Best practices shared from across the country;
  • Networking opportunities with a community of passionate advocates;
  • Three full days of exciting content and programming; and
  • Access to all conference recordings and materials for 30 days after the event.

Members of Congress to Introduce Better Care Better Jobs Act

Senators Casey, Wyden and Schumer, along with Senators Murray, Duckworth, Brown and Hassan, and Representatives Dingell, Pallone, Schakowsky and Matsui will soon introduce the bicameral Better Care Better Jobs Act. The bill would:

  • Enhance Medicaid funding for home and community-based services (HCBS) by strengthening and expanding access to HCBS and the HCBS workforce;
  • Encourage innovative models that benefit direct care workers and care recipients;
  • Support quality and accountability;
  • Facilitate state planning;
  • Make permanent spousal impoverishment protections; and
  • Make permament the Money Follows the Person program.
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