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During his 2020 presidential campaign, President Biden promised to improve nursing home safety and policy that has been carelessly putting our older adults, adults with disabilities, and those seeking care in skilled nursing facilities in danger. As you may have heard on Monday, the White House released a groundbreaking statement aimed at expanding nursing home staffing and oversight. This recognizes that the 200,000 plus COVID-related deaths during the pandemic were in large caused by neglectful conditions. 

“As advocates, we have been fighting for better policies for decades,” our Executive Director, Nicole Howell, states. “When COVID hit, nursing homes were ravaged as the virus spread through facilities sickening and killing residents and staff. From the very beginning of the pandemic, the Empowered Aging team worked to stay visible and engaged with residents, families, and our communities.”

According to the fact sheet released by the White House and this Washington Post article, the initiative is set to enforce “minimum staffing levels, reduce the use of shared rooms, a crackdown on the poorest performing nursing homes to stifle the spread of infectious disease,” and take a harder look at the “role of private equity firms due to data that shows their ownership was linked to worse outcomes and higher costs.” 

“This is announcement is historic. It’s a once in a generation kind of reform,” Nicole continues. “For too long, owners, operators, staffing shortages, facility conditions, among numerous other issues, have gone unchecked. It’s extremely exciting to see this type of regulation and enforcement on a national level finally come to fruition.”

Other key points from this plan include:

  • Biden will be asking Congress to provide nearly $500 million for health and safety inspections in nursing homes and “allow nursing homes to be penalized up to $1 million” for poor performance.
  • Develop a federal database that tracks owner and operator safety records.
  • A push to lower financial barriers to nurse aide training and certification, creating a better pathway to good-paying jobs.
  • Get behind state efforts to improve workforce and staffing.
  • Strengthen requirements for pandemic and emergency preparedness.

    This is just a short glimpse into the list of long-awaited changes. We fully stand behind all of the reform measures outlined in this plan, and while this is a huge win, we recognize that we must keep fighting to ensure that the strategies laid out don’t go unaccounted for. All Americans deserve this justice for their journey in aging.

    If you or someone you know is interested in supporting our mission, please consider donating to our organization today.