May 07, 2020


Task Force on Aging & Families calls on HHS and CMS to use Congressionally-approved funds to increase COVID-19 testing in long-term care facilities

WASHINGTON – This week, as nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the country continue to be ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, the House Democratic Caucus Task Force on Aging and Families (TFAF) leadership took steps to promote maximum safety for nursing home residents and caregivers by continuing pressure on the Trump administration and introducing life-saving legislation.

Task Force on Aging and Families Co-Chairs Reps. Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Doris Matsui (CA-6), and Conor Lamb (PA-17) and Vice Chairs Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Ayanna Pressley (MA-7) and Ted Deutch (FL-22), along with House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8) sent a letter calling on the Trump administration to prioritize nursing home and long-term care facilities with the additional $25 billion provided by Congress for COVID-19 testing.

In the letter, the Members noted that “nursing homes still struggle to access enough tests, with those that do relying ‘on luck and contacts,’” and that “inadequate testing has allowed the coronavirus to silently infect thousands in long-term care facilities.” As of this week, nearly 20,000 nursing home residents and workers have died from COVID-19, with thousands more fatalities likely to have occurred in other congregate care settings.

View the full text of the letter here.

In addition, the TFAF leadership joined Co-Chair Schakowsky in introducing legislation in the House this week to ensure quality of care in nursing home facilities amid the pandemic. The bill – Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents and Workers During COVID-19 Act (H.R. 6698) – includes a number of measures to protect nursing home residents and workers including increased testing and personal protective equipment, rapid funding for strike teams to tackle the nation’s hardest hit nursing homes and improved oversight by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). H.R. 6698 also requires the federal government to report COVID-19 cases and fatalities in long-term care settings; Schakowsky and the Task Force leadership originally called on the administration to provide this information on April 15.

Quality of nursing home care is one of the core principles driving the Task Force on Aging and Families leadership as it tackles the COVID-19 pandemic on behalf of Older Americans, their families and their caregivers. As TFAF Vice Chair Pressley noted during the Task Force’s recent press call on the crisis, “Experts are warning that long-term facilities will soon be responsible for the majority of COVID-related fatalities… and it's becoming all too clear that these facilities really are incubators. They're incubators for the virus. Our seniors deserve the dignity that comes with a place to call home. The family members that care for them deserve peace of mind.”