Joe Biden rolls out nursing home plan, calls for more oversight, transparency

Cristopher Centers

Joe Biden’s Democratic presidential campaign on Thursday unveiled a nursing home plan the campaign says would increase safety, oversight, and transparency in nursing homes and other longterm care facilities. Biden’s plan offers proposals such as requiring that infectious disease specialists be at every location; increasing pay and benefits for nursing […]

Joe Biden’s Democratic presidential campaign on Thursday unveiled a nursing home plan the campaign says would increase safety, oversight, and transparency in nursing homes and other longterm care facilities.

Biden’s plan offers proposals such as requiring that infectious disease specialists be at every location; increasing pay and benefits for nursing homes; requiring more communication between operators and residents, particularly during a crisis like the coronavirus crisis; and giving ombudsmen more freedom of movement within facilities.

“A Biden-Harris administration will enact policies and oversight that ensure nursing home residents are safe, properly cared for, and can live with dignity,” Biden’s campaign stated in a news release outlining the plan.

Many of the policies and initiatives outlined in the plan are addressed by state governments. For example. Florida rolled out rapid testing at nursing homes, one of Biden’s proposals, in August.

Still, almost no where would a nursing home plan catch voters’ attention more than in Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis has claimed high grades for protecting Florida’s nursing home population from COVID-19, but there have been complaints and frustrations.

Biden’s campaign released the nursing home plan with strong criticisms of what President Donald Trump has been doing on the issue. The campaign charged the Trump administration with rolling back protections for nursing home residents that had been enacted under President Barack Obama. It also charged Trump has no current plan to address what the Biden campaign calls a “crisis” regarding longterm care facilities.

A crisis is being revealed on a large scale because of the coronavirus pandemic; but systemic issues had been in place already as residents of many nursing homes have lacked critical health care and oversight infrastructure that could have lessened the COVID-19 virus’ blow, the Biden campaign contended.

“As of mid-September, there had been 77,000 COVID-19 deaths in long-term care facilities since March — about 40% of all virus-related deaths reported nationwide. It did not have to be this bad,” the Biden campaign stated in the news release. “President Trump’s failed leadership as president and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated residents, their families and the staff dedicated to care for them.”

Trump’s campaign responded that Trump has done much to protect nursing homes and called Biden’s plan “too little, too late.”

“President Trump has been leading a coronavirus response with seniors in mind by spearheading Operation Warp Speed, ensuring that nursing homes across the nation have the testing support they need, and providing the resources necessary to protect our nation’s most vulnerable population from coronavirus. Meanwhile, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s policy roll-out is just too little, too late,” Trump Victory spokesperson Emma Vaughn stated.

According to the release, the Biden plan would:

— Ensure point-of-care testing.

— Require an infectious disease specialist at every location.

— Ensure adequate staffing ratios.

— Treat long-term care workers with respect and dignity, and give them pay and benefits they deserve.

— Direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to release and enforce an Emergency Temporary Standard to ensure safe workplaces.

— Allow ombudsmen entry even during visitation restrictions.

— Require facilities to conduct regular open sessions with residents and family members to explain current situations and take questions.

— Require 30-day notice for discharge to avoid abrupt and involuntary evictions .

— Reject limitations of liability in lawsuit claims.

— Ensure financial accountability by auditing and strengthening requirements for cost reports.

— Increase the number of older Americans and people with disabilities able to receive home and community-based services.

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