In a recent hearing entitled, “Caring for Seniors amid the COVID-19 Crisis,” U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, highlighted legislative proposals to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes.

The proposals would also expand the availability of home- and community-based services and provide premium pay for essential workers on the front lines of the public health crisis.

More than 105 million Americans, including seniors, people with disabilities, and individuals with underlying health conditions, are at a greater risk of serious complications if infected with COVID-19.

Nursing home residents have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and according to reports, more than 34,000 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19.

Casey has put forward four legislative proposals:


1. The Coronavirus Relief for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act would help low-income seniors afford the cost of treatment for COVID-19 and ensure seniors and people with disabilities maintain access to home care services that allow them to live independently.


2. The Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act would help states purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing and fund premium pay, overtime, and other essential benefits for nursing home workers.


3. The COVID-19 “Heroes Fund” would provide a $13 per hour premium pay increase for essential workers, including hospital workers, nursing home workers, and workers providing home- and community-based services.


4. The COVID-19 Recovery for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act would ensure seamless access to Social Security, Medicare, and nutrition benefits during the public health emergency and provide funding for senior legal services and education on COVID-19 frauds and scams.


Witnesses for the hearing included Mark J. Mulligan, M.D., professor, Department of Medicine at Grossman School of Medicine and director of the Langone Vaccine Center, New York University; Steven H. Landers, M.D., M.P.H., president and CEO, Visiting Nurse Association Health Group, Inc.; and R. Tamara Konetzka, Ph.D., professor of health services research, Department of Public Health Services, University of Chicago.

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