The latest novel coronavirus relief package – also known as the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools Acts (HEALS Act) announced this week by Senate Republicans, addresses some important issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. But there are some Iowa seniors think Congress needs to do more to protect residents and staff of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
Anthony Carroll, associate state director for advocacy with AARP Iowa, said 465 Iowans in long term care homes have died of the virus as of this week. He thinks the proposed $1 trillion legislation should make these homes a priority and include more funding for personal protective equipment and regular testing of residents and staff.
Both parties in the Senate are negotiating on the legislation. But they haven’t been able to agree on what the relief package should include – even though COVID cases are rising across the country.
Carroll notes that Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley had put forward the “Emergency Support for Nursing Homes and Elder Justice Reform Act.” He thinks some of the best parts of that legislation are now included in the HEALS Act package.
Last month, a nursing home in Dubuque was cited for allowing employees with novel coronavirus symptoms to continue working. Inspectors with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals say that might have led to 11 resident deaths and 95% of the residents testing positive.