Lucido, Dr. Copf testify on bill prohibiting COVID-19 patients in nursing homes

LANSING, Mich. — The House of Representatives Health Policy Committee on Wednesday heard testimony from Sen. Peter J. Lucido and Dr. Rebecca Copf, M.D. in support of Lucido’s bill that would prohibit the transfer of people who have COVID-19 into nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

“Thousands of our fellow Michiganders’ loved ones died from COVID-19 because the state decided to bring the virus into nursing home facilities,” said Lucido, R-Shelby Township. “It needs to stop, and my bill will make sure it does. This important, commonsense legislation would help ensure the health and safety of the vulnerable people residing at nursing homes, and the staff who care for them, by better mitigating their exposure to the virus at the facilities.”

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 the House and Senate committees on health policy on the evaluation.

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.

“Nursing home residents already have compromised immune systems and health issues that require frequent assistance, and they’re at significant risk for contracting COVID-19,” said Copf, a family medicine specialist at Oakwood Anesthesia Association in Dearborn. “Likewise, the workers at these facilities are not always equipped to take care of such a disease as COVID-19, and forcing them to take care of a known infected person increases the risk. We should learn from these mistakes and do what we can to prevent it from happening again. We must protect these vulnerable people and mitigate the spread of the virus in nursing home facilities.”

The bill awaits further consideration by the committee.

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Sen. Peter J. Lucido, R-Shelby Township, and Dr. Rebecca Copf, M.D. speak in support of Senate Bill 956 on Wednesday, July 15.