Task Force Says Nursing Homes Need More Aid. Critics Say Industry Should Step Up

Washington Post: Task Force Says Nursing Homes Need More Aid. Critics Say Industry Should Step Up, September 17, 2020

The Trump administration convened a panel of nursing home operators and administrators, academics and state health officials to recommend ways to step up protections for nursing home residents amid the covid-19 pandemic, and this week it received the advice: More money for testing, for personal protective equipment, for registered nurses, for infection control training and staff salary increases.

But patient advocates were quick to criticize the 186-page report, made public Wednesday, for its failure to mention accountability on the part of nursing homes. The panel, which met a half dozen times in closed sessions over the summer, had 25 members, with nursing home representatives and their allies heavily represented.

Eric Carlson, Directing Attorney at Justice in Aging and the only member of the Commission to dissent from the recommendations said, “There needs to be some responsibility,” he said. “You need facilities that are accountable and to make good use of the money they are getting.”

He applauded the report for urging the careful resumption of family visits, which have been sharply restricted or prohibited in many states, and agreed that the federal government should take on the burden of testing and providing PPE during the pandemic. The report properly recognizes the tough job faced by nursing assistants, but much of the rest, he said, “is just aspirational if anything.”

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