Senate GOP proposes coronavirus nursing home ‘strike teams’

By | July 27, 2020

Senate Republicans proposed establishing strike teams meant to assist nursing home staff in preventing the coronavirus.

The provision is part of the GOP proposal for a second major round of pandemic relief introduced Monday, the HEALS Act.

“We extend for five years the CARES ACT provision that pays clinics and health centers for telehealth to provide a down payment on meeting healthcare needs in rural America,” Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa said on the Senate floor Monday. “We also assist nursing home patients and workers.”

The legislation would allow the secretary of Health and Human Services to establish federal strike teams to assist Medicare and Medicaid-enrolled nursing facilities to enhance COVID-19 testing in staff, visitors, and residents. The federal team would also assist in the development of training courses on best practices for infection control and prevention in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Nursing homes were some of the first institutions to be hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities across the United States accounted for a major share of COVID-19 deaths in April. More than 14,000 residents and employees at such facilities in Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania died from COVID-19.

Data released in May by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services concerning infections and fatalities in nursing homes were riddled with inaccuracies. For instance, the data listed 641 nursing homes with more residents infected with COVID-19 than they had beds and 702 nursing homes with more staff members infected than they had beds.

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The HEALS Act will likely cost a total of $ 1 trillion, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, compared to the package passed by House Democrats in May, which would have cost about $ 3 trillion.