As COVID-19 vaccinations roll out, nursing home residents and staff remain on the frontlines of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. More than 10,000 Texans in long-term care facilities have died as a result of COVID-19.
Texas legislators are responding to the call to take swift and decisive action to ensure the health and safety of long-term care facility residents and staff.
Today, AARP Texas Director Tina Tran applauded Texas lawmakers for their initial work and urged continued progress toward passing several important bills to protect nursing home residents. These bills are in varying stages of legislative review and include measures that would:
* Improve nursing home staffing and quality;
* Ensure visitation for residents of care facilities;
* Create transparency around federal funds allocated during the pandemic;
* Address emergency power supply needs in long-term-care facilities; and
* Incentivize at-home care to avoid costly nursing home stays.
“Vaccines are working to reduce the number of COVID cases and deaths, but long-term care facilities remain Ground Zero in this pandemic,” said AARP Texas Director Tina Tran. “Thankfully, Texas legislators are responding appropriately to the crisis by advancing important nursing home legislation.
“AARP Texas urges lawmakers to finish the work they’ve started,” Tran added. “Texans are counting on their elected leaders to protect the mothers, fathers, grandparents and other vulnerable loved ones in long-term care facilities.”
The following are some of the vital measures being considered by the Legislature:
Visitation: Senate Bills 25 and House Bill 892 would reunite nursing home and assisted living facility residents with their loved ones and would ensure that, in future events in which visitation is restricted, all residents can have at least one person of their choosing to make visits.
Transparency: SB 809 requires that nursing homes report any federal funds they received during the pandemic. SB 882 clarifies that long-term-care facilities are not protected entities for purposes of reporting cases of a communicable diseases. This move would give family members and the public information when there is a public health emergency.
Staffing and quality: SB 2028 would improve staff-to-resident ratios in nursing facilities. SB 146 offers loan repayment to nurses who work in long-term-care facilities. Several budget riders would also review and address staffing and quality.
Emergency power supply: SB 1614 and HB 2325 would address emergency power in long-term-care facilities to ensure that residents are safe from the heat of summer and cold of winter. The February winter storm highlighted shortcomings in existing emergency power supply requirements for care facilities.
At-Home Care: Numerous bills and budget riders have been filed to encourage more care at home, with some involving changes to the Star+Plus system.