Covid-19, Nursing Homes and Federal Regulation

Covid-19, Nursing Homes and Federal Regulation

As covid-19 ravaged nursing homes, it killed 184,000 elderly and disabled patients as well as their caregivers. The U.S. Senate is considering a measure to modernize government rules and supervision of these institutions. ‘The Nursing Home Improvement and Accountability Act’ was proposed by six Democrats, including Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and Scranton Senator Bob Casey.

Covid-19 infections are on the rise throughout the nation, more so now due to the highly infectious Delta variant. Nursing facilities may not be fully equipped to deal with the spread of the virus or deal with its impact on the health sector, thus compromising the health of those in need of care. In the event of such negligence, a personal injury attorney is the best option.

Staggering Death Toll:

A spike in illnesses in early 2020 sheds attention on nursing facility staffing shortages and infection control problems, particularly at Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Beaver County, where the first outbreak occurred. To help the personnel at the huge 589-bed hospital, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf called in National Guard troops. More than 70 people died in the community. As it turned out, the coronavirus had spread across the whole facility.

Even though Brighton had more covid-19 fatalities than any other nursing home in Western Pennsylvania before vaccinations were available late last year, few institutions could avoid infection. Covid-19 fatalities accounted for more than half of Pennsylvania’s 27,957 deaths in long-term care institutions — 13,434 among residents of nursing homes, and 1,894 among residents of personal care and assisted-living facilities

In many states, such numbers were the norm rather than the exception. In June, the New York Times reported that nursing home patients accounted for 31 percent of the nation’s covid-19 fatalities, even though just 4 percent of the nation’s covid-19 cases were among nursing home patients.

Why Nursing Homes?

Zack Shamberg, the Pennsylvania Health Care Association’s president and CEO, said it’s a significant problem. The association represents more than 200 Pennsylvania nursing homes and 200 assisted living and personal care facilities.

Despite this, his organization has reservations about some sections of the law that have been proposed. According to the association, patients must not be required to sign agreements waiving their legal rights when they are accepted to nursing homes.

When it comes to long-term care in Pennsylvania, “banning arbitration agreements would mean that more and more money would go to trial lawyers instead of bedside treatment,” Shamberg said. Additionally, state authorities are mandating vaccination of employees in nursing homes to enhance infection prevention.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nursing home patients with COVID-19 are five percent more likely to suffer than someone of the same age who lives at home. About 33 percent of COVID-19 fatalities occur in nursing homes and other protracted care settings. Nursing homes and other long-term care institutions have lost almost 163,000 residents and staff.

Quality control problems existed at many facilities even before the epidemic hit. In February 2020, State Survey Agencies penalized more than 6,600 nursing facilities (almost 43 percent) for prevention and treatment program inadequacies, including a lack of a corrective plan in place, according to the Health and Human Services Office of The Inspector general.

 Due to a lack of resources devoted to required requirements for efficient preventive and control programs, the nursing home sector was ill-prepared after the COVID-19 epidemic, sometimes to fatal results. More than 80,000 people live in nursing homes in Pennsylvania, which have more than 700 facilities.

As part of their custodial care, nursing homes offer primary medical care that isn’t accessible at home or assisted care centers. Other services provided by most nursing homes include post-acute-surgery care, behavioral and mental care, treatment of complicated comorbid illnesses, such as respiratory and kidney ailments, and wound care. Consequently, managers (and an often undertrained staff) are forced to do far too many duties to provide adequate care for these residents with complicated and severe illnesses.

“Skilled care” residents get reimbursements from Medicare, managed-care organizations, and insurance companies at a cost that’s three to ten times more than custodial care.

For example, the COVID-19 spikes in April and mid-December prompted hospitals to decrease the number of surgeries and hospital admissions for critical care, which substantially reduced reimbursements for nursing home residents at higher skilled-care rates. Homes were falling into financial ruin as a result of this cutback.

As of late spring 2020 and into this year, “provider relief” funds totaling about $10 billion helped slow the financial collapse. In addition to the burden of significant non-operational payments made to landlords, investors, operators, real estate companies, and management firms, this financing is just a short respite and not a long-term remedy to decreased income.

How to Regulate Improvements?

The nursing home business is prone to managers and owners that prioritize money above excellent care. Making money is neither unlawful nor immoral. Siphoning money “knowingly” leads to government demands for payment for treatment that was never provided, or was severely negligent, which is a criminal offense. However, this can be improved.


First of all, Medicare and Medicaid, and other funders must connect facility payment to quality of treatment and safety while adequately financing enforcement of the law. There is a pressing need for federal, state, and local organizations working with providers to develop a plan that identifies the poorest performers in the sector and expedites their removal from government programs when reasonable efforts at compliance have failed. The state’s installation of monitors is an essential solution. By appointing interim administrators, authorities may oust owners who have demonstrated irresponsible disregard for vulnerable people.

A secondary recommendation is that governing bodies give more money for custody care. COVID-19 has worsened ongoing nursing home staffing issues, which must be addressed. According to the Biden administration’s 2021 Economic Recovery Plan, government money must be given to pay at-home and community workers a fair salary, train them, and provide caregivers and patients with medical services and equipment to support their care. Increasing federal financing and expanding state programs will be necessary to provide a safe and excellent care home option.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, nursing home licensing rules are being rewritten. It is an excellent chance to support nursing home patients who deserve respect and dignity. Priority one is to provide the best possible care.

How Can our Personal Injury Law Firm Help?

Covid-19 has led to further inspection and proposition of regulations concerning the nursing facilities. If your loved one has suffered due to the negligence of a nursing facility, you can get in touch with the attorneys at Philadelphia Injury Lawyers P.C. for a free consultation to determine the best legal path you can choose.

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