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2021 Federal Legislation News

HR 598 – Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents and Workers During COVID–19 and Beyond Act

Federal Bill HR 598 supports the Dignity Alliance MA Goal 1 – Nursing Home Reform that is person-centered and respectful of human dignity with oversight, accountability and transparency. DAM has endorsed this legislation.

This bill modifies several requirements for Medicare skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and Medicaid nursing facilities (NFs) to address the public health emergency relating to COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) and the overall standard and administration of care in such facilities.

Specifically, during the public health emergency, SNFs and NFs must comply with specified quality of care, worker safety, and transparency requirements, subject to civil penalties. Requirements include (1) testing residents and employees for COVID-19 weekly or before shifts, respectively, and reporting any lack of available testing kits on a daily basis; (2) providing at least two weeks of paid sick leave to each employee; and (3) reporting the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, including demographic information, on a daily basis.

The bill also establishes general requirements for SNFs and NFs with respect to minimum staffing levels and protections for whistleblowers and residents, subject to civil penalties, as well as training requirements for nurses. It also requires specific consent procedures in relation to the administration of certain psychotropic drugs and prohibits the use of pre-dispute arbitration agreements in such facilities.