Senate Leadership Introduces New COVID Relief Package; Includes Nursing Home Support

July 30, 2020
Policy Snapshot

Last week, Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced a new COVID-19 relief package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

The bill includes proposals to have the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) create nursing home strike teams, develop online staff training courses on infection control, and provide governors a list of all Medicare and Medicaid-enrolled nursing facilities that saw an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the previous week.

The nursing home strike teams would help perform medical examinations, test for COVID-19, and help nursing homes with infection control practices such as quarantine, isolation, or disinfection procedures. The strike teams would need to be requested and would supplement state efforts. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) indicated that it had already deployed Task Force Strike Teams to 18 nursing homes in Illinois, Florida, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. HHS announced in July that it would make an additional $5 billion in CARES Act funding available to enhance the COVID-19 response to the nursing home sector.

Also included in the bill was an extension of Medicare telehealth waivers through the end of 2021, unless the public health emergency goes beyond that timeframe. Liability reforms for providers and health care facilities were also included. Under the bill, plaintiffs would need to show their injuries were caused by the defendants’ gross negligence or willful misconduct. Damages would also be limited to economic losses and punitive damages would be prohibited.

Click here to read a section-by-section summary of the legislation.

Click here to read the full legislative language.