Sen. Zorn supports bill to protect nursing home residents from COVID-19

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday voted for legislation designed to prevent people who have COVID-19 from being admitted or retained in nursing home and long-term care facilities.

“We must do everything possible to protect our most vulnerable residents, especially during a public health crisis. Unfortunately, with COVID-19 the state failed to do so — with deadly consequences,” said Zorn, R-Ida, “Instead of protecting our most at-risk seniors from the coronavirus, the governor ordered nursing facilities with less than 80% capacity to create space to accept patients with COVID-19, regardless of their ability to care for them and isolate the spread of the virus. As a result, nearly 2,000 people in our nursing homes have died from the virus, accounting for more than one-third of COVID-19 deaths in Michigan.

“It was a preventable tragedy, and this bill would ensure we have the ability to treat future COVID-19 patients while never again jeopardizing the lives of nursing home residents.”

Senate Bill 956 would prohibit people with COVID-19 who are ineligible for admission in a hospital from being admitted or retained in a nursing home unless the facility has a state-approved designated area and program to provide appropriate care necessary to the patient.

The bill would require the state Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to develop and submit a plan to the House and Senate health policy committees describing its process to ensure there are dedicated facilities to provide care for COVID-19-positive patients in each of the eight health care regions.

It would also require MDHHS to evaluate the COVID-19 Regional Hubs that were previously implemented and operated during the state’s response to COVID-19 in nursing home facilities and report its findings to the health policy committees.

According to the federal government, several of the state’s nursing homes serving as regional hubs for COVID-19 patients received low-quality ratings as determined by a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rating system.

SB 956 has been approved by the Senate and now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.