WASHINGTON—Today, AARP Arizona State Director Dana Marie Kennedy testified on behalf of AARP, its 38 million members and their families at the U.S. House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee hearing on “Examining the COVID-19 Nursing Home Crisis.” The situation in our nation’s long-term care facilities is dire. AARP is calling on Congress and the Administration to take immediate action to stem the continued loss of life and improve conditions in these facilities. Kennedy urged action on a 5-point plan to address the COVID-19 crisis in the nation’s long-term care facilities, including:
- Ensuring access to personal protective equipment and testing
- Ensuring adequate staff and access for long-term care ombudsmen
- Ensuring transparency of information on COVID-19 cases and data, transfer and discharge rights, and use of provider relief funds
- Requiring facilities to provide and facilitate virtual visitation
- Rejecting proposals to grant immunity related to COVID -19 to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
Below are excerpts of Kennedy’s prepared testimony:
“The only way to truly protect the health and safety of residents and staff is for all facilities to have ready access to testing and require that residents and staff are regularly tested. Testing will help control the spread of the virus among the residents, staff, and the community at large, as staff and others come and go from these facilities. AARP urges Congress to take immediate steps to require regular testing for staff and residents of long-term care facilities.
“The stories of people unable to say goodbye to their parents, grandparents, or other loved ones is not only heartbreaking, it is outrageous. In America, when the technology to facilitate virtual visits is not only abundant, but increasingly affordable, it is nothing short of a scandal that these visits are still not available on a regular basis to many Americans in these facilities. Congress must require residential care facilities to make available and facilitate virtual visitation via video-conference or other technologies for residents and their loved ones.
“AARP strongly urges Congress to protect the safety of residents, including by maintaining the rights of residents and their families to seek legal redress to hold facilities accountable when residents are harmed, neglected, or abused. Litigation is an option of last resort, and no family member who has lost a loved one due to neglect or abuse pursues this course of action lightly.
“AARP has heard from thousands of people all across the country whose loved ones – their mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and dear friends – lost their lives in nursing homes. We are deeply alarmed by the rising death toll and the continued lack of urgent action. Much more is needed now to protect residents, staff, their loved ones, and the surrounding communities from this disease.
“Families all across the country are looking to Congress and the Administration for swift action to protect the health and safety of their loved ones living in long-term care facilities. We cannot wait any longer.”
Kennedy’s full written testimony is available here. AARP experts are available to discuss the nursing home crisis and AARP’s calls for action from Congress and the Administration.
To watch the testimony, visit: https://youtu.be/KlTeBCX7K50.
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AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.
Media Contact: Amanda Davis, 202-434-2560, firstname.lastname@example.org, @AARPMedia