Legislation to Protect Nursing Home Residents Earns Senate Approval

HARRISBURG – Residents of assisted living facilities and other long-term care homes would be better protected against disease outbreaks under a bill approved by the Senate yesterday, according to Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24), who supported the bill.

House Bill 1189 would require the Secretary of Health to ensure long-term care facilities follow and implement disease prevention and control guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The bill would also require the Department of Health to ensure that no individual who has tested positive for a communicable disease within 14 days is placed in a facility without being placed in isolation. The Secretary of Health would be prevented from forcing the admission of a patient to a long-term care facility without considering the ability of the facility to care for the patient.

The need for the legislation was magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Orders from the Department of Health mandated that older residents who tested positive for COVID-19 were returned to nursing homes.

Approximately two-thirds of all COVID-19 deaths in Pennsylvania were residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

The Senate Aging and Youth Committee also advanced a bill this week to ensure safe visitation for nursing home residents. Senator Bob Mensch’s Senate Bill 1279 would allow facilities to designate at least one essential caregiver per resident that would be permitted to visit and care for their loved ones.

Many Pennsylvania families faced COVID-19 restrictions that prevented them from visiting their loved ones, even when following all safety protocols.

Senate Bill 1189 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. Senate Bill 1279 moves to the full Senate for consideration.

For more information on Senator Mensch’s legislation, visit www.senatormensch.com.  State updates can also be found on Senator Mensch’s Facebook at facebook.com/PASenatorBobMensch/ or Twitter @SenatorMensch.

CONTACT: Madison Scarfaro mscarfaro@pasen.gov  (215) 541-2388