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

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Curt VanderWall on Wednesday voted for legislation designed to prevent people who have COVID-19 from being admitted into nursing home and long-term care facilities.

“One sad aspect of this pandemic that could have been mitigated greatly is the extreme disaster that has occurred in our nursing homes,” said VanderWall, R-Ludington. “Everyone knew about the risk to the elderly, yet the governor chose to allow those with COVID-19 to be placed in elderly care facilities. Senate Bill 956 would put an end to this horrible practice.”

As of June 23, there have been 2,011 deaths due to COVID-19 in Michigan nursing homes, which constitutes 34.3% of all deaths by the disease reported in the state.

SB 956 would prohibit people ineligible for admission in a hospital who have tested positive for and have not yet recovered from COVID-19 from being admitted to 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.