Senators Collins, Sinema Outline Key Recommendations for CMS Commission to Protect Residents of Nursing Homes

Washington, D.C.—In a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator SeemaVerma, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) enumerated their recommendations for the recently announced Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes.  Senator Collins is the Chairman of the Aging Committee and Senator Sinema is a member of the Committee. 


The Commission is expected to convene this month and develop recommendations for nursing homes on care delivery responsiveness, identification and mitigation of COVID-19 transmission, and infection control compliance.  It will include leading industry experts, family members, resident advocates, clinicians, medical ethicists, administrators, academics, infection control and prevention professionals, and state and local authorities. 


“We applaud the creation of this independent Commission and hope that it can help inform further efforts to safeguard the health and quality of care for a population that is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19,” Senators Collins and Sinema wrote.  “We look forward to working with you to ensure that older Americans’ health, safety, and well-being continue to be addressed during the COVID-19 response.”


Senators Collins and Sinema’s urged that Administrator Verma take into account the following considerations to help protect older adults in nursing homes:


  1. Include one representative from a state Long-Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman Program.


  1. Address how health care providers in LTC facilities and in-home care settings can access adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), and consider how the federal government, in collaboration with states, might take into consideration these needs when planning to procure and distribute PPE.


  1. Consider how the federal government, in collaboration with states and local communities, might support testing capacity and policies to ensure that appropriate testing takes place at LTC facilities and during transitions of care. 


  1. Encourage further data collection and reporting relative to not only residents, but also staff of LTC facilities, in order to provide the transparency necessary to assess situational outcomes and needs within these facilities. 


  1. Highlight models for state-level pandemic response teams that focus on activities that affect residents at LTC facilities, including best practices on how states can establish such models. 


  1. Expedite the development of recommended practices to transition residents from nursing homes and other congregate care settings to their own homes or other settings with appropriate home and community-based services in order to decrease the likelihood infection spread.


  1. Ensure that the unique health risks of older adults living in nursing homes is considered in the distribution plans for any future COVID-19 vaccines.


Click HERE to read Senators Collins and Sinema’s letter.