How lawmakers respond to nursing homes being at the epicenter of coronavirus pandemic

Washington DC Bureau

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) – Nearly one third of all COVID deaths have been traced back to nursing homes. 

Lawmakers in Washington are working to address it but both parties are taking different approaches. 

Nursing homes are at the epicenter of the COVID pandemic. 

“There’s close quarters, very vulnerable populations. We need to do a lot more to keep residents and staff safe,” Representative Josh Harder, D-California, said. 

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are focusing their attention on care facilities.  

Democrat Josh Harder has a bill to make regular testing mandatory for all nursing home staff and residents.

“Right now residents have to prove they’re sick before they get a test. That doesn’t make any sense,” Harder said. 

Harder’s also calling for more accountability from the centers for Medicare and Medicaid. 

He says the agency is behind on basic responses to the virus, like notifying residents of cases in their nursing homes. 

“They’re just asleep at the wheel and we’re trying to do everything we can to wake them up,” Harder said. 

Meantime, Republicans have their own policy goals on nursing homes, mainly to protect their owners against lawsuits. 

It’s something White House Advisors say the President is considering.

“The President has spoken about liability protection for other means. But we’ve been on top of nursing homes from the beginning,” Kellyanne Conway said. 

Kellyanne Conway, advisor to the president, says the White House has tried to facilitate more testing, specifically at VA nursing homes. 

“I think the most important thing to do is look at the guidance we’ve provided,” Conway said. 

The official White House guidelines, ask states to prioritize the elderly in their testing plans. 

Both parties are working to get their nursing home priorities into the next stimulus package.

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