LANSING, Mich. — Legislation sponsored by Sen. Peter J. Lucido that would prohibit the transfer of people who have COVID-19 into nursing home and long-term care facilities was approved by the Senate on Wednesday.
“Nursing homes and long-term care facilities were never equipped to deal with a virus like COVID-19 that has affected our elderly and vulnerable populations,” said Lucido, R-Shelby Township. “With more than one-third of the state’s COVID-19-related deaths occurring among patients from nursing homes, it is clear this never should have happened. My bill would help ensure that it never, ever happens again in our state.”
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.
Senate Bill 956 would prohibit individuals from being admitted or retained for care in a nursing home if they test positive for COVID-19 and have not since recovered, unless the nursing home is able to provide a preapproved designated area and a program to demonstrate its ability to retain the individual in their facility and provide the appropriate care necessary for the patient that is consistent with adequate supply, staffing, and operational capacity at the facility at the time of the individual’s diagnosis — with the prior consent of the state Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).
The bill would require 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. The dedicated facilities would be intended for those patients who are COVID-19-positive and are ineligible for admission into a hospital, nursing home, or adult foster care facility.
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 provide a report to House and Senate committees on health policy on the evaluation.
“Why did the governor issue her executive order and why did she keep reissuing executive orders keeping COVID-19 patients in nursing homes with our most vulnerable citizens when other governors, who initially made the same terrible mistake, revoked their orders?” Lucido asked. “Why is the Legislature having to fight the governor to protect our elderly and the infirmed from her months-old mistakes?”
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Lucido said that a similar measure he sponsored, Senate Bill 972, which would prohibit the transfer of people who have COVID-19 into the state’s adult foster care facilities, is expected to be taken up soon by the Senate Committee on Health Policy and Human Services.