Weekly Update: Delivering Federal Resources to Essex Center Nursing Home; Introducing Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act; Cosponsoring Legislation to Assist Working Families

September 4, 2020
E-newsletter

Weekly Update

For the most up-to-date resources and information on COVID-19, visit my website here.

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Securing Rapid Testing and Technical Assistance for Essex Center Nursing Home

This week, after discussions with local Essex County elected officials and families who have lost loved ones, I immediately contacted the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to request their urgent federal assistance. At my request, CMS immediately had one of their Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) teams contact the Essex Center to discuss the situation and talk through steps being taken to protect nursing home residents and staff. Federal personnel from CMS visited the Essex Center last week to assess the steps being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and provide direct technical assistance, at my request. Following my quick action and effective advocacy, HHS is immediately sending rapid response tests and testing equipment to the Essex Center. Following the QIO’s visit last week, the Essex Center is taking the following recommended actions:

  • Expanding onsite physician presence and securing additional staff. 
  • The Medical Director is now onsite at least once a week, the Nurse Practitioner onsite presence has increased to several times a week, and the telehealth visits continue for both general and psychiatric coverage.  
  • Working with the local health department to identify solutions to the housing cohorting recommendations for external staff brought in to assist. 
  • Accepting no new admissions at this time.
  • CMS QIO is continuing to provide technical assistance to the Essex Center.

Amid the recent COVID-19 outbreak at the Essex Center, I acted immediately to coordinate with local public health officials and CMS personnel to get them on site as soon as possible. At my request, CMS worked quickly to get members from their QIO team on the ground to provide technical assistance to the Essex Center and provide recommendations that the Center is taking seriously. Additionally, the news that HHS is sending rapid response testing equipment to the Center is an extremely critical development. Ensuring safety in our North Country nursing homes continues to be one of my top priorities as we work to defeat COVID-19.  I am very grateful to our hardworking local public health officials and CMS personnel for responding to my request to help mitigate this critical situation.  My prayers are with the affected Essex Center residents, their families, and the staff as they work on the frontlines. Read more here.

Introducing Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act

Together with my House colleagues Congressman Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16), Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02), and Congressman Vincente Gonzalez (TX-15),I introduced the Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation would provide targeted funding to the United States Postal Service (USPS) to support them due to losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the bill would require the Postmaster General and the Board of Governors to transmit to Congress a plan to ensure the long-term solvency and the future of the USPS. A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Susan Collins. This legislation is supported by the American Postal Workers Union, Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, National Active and Retired Federal Employees, National Association of Postal Supervisors, National Postal Mail Handlers Union, National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, the Package Coalition, the PRINTING United Alliance, and United Postmasters and Managers of America. The USPS is a critical component of our North Country infrastructure, especially in our more rural areas. I understand firsthand the importance of this service and have met with many Postal Service employees during my time in office. I am proud to work in a bipartisan manner to introduce this legislation along with my colleagues and offer a real solution to the immediate issues facing USPS. The North Country depends on the long-term viability of the Postal Service, and this legislation puts USPS on the pathway to fiscal stability and stronger future. I look forward to working with my House colleagues to further this legislation. Read more here.

Cosponsoring COVID-19 Dependent Care Flexible Spending Arrangement Rollover Act

I am cosponsoring the bipartisan COVID-19 Dependent Care Flexible Spending Arrangement Rollover Act, legislation that will prevent working families from losing funds for child care services due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dependent care assistance plans (DCAPs) allow employees to set aside pre-tax income to cover the costs of child care, however any unspent funds are lost at the end of the plan year. Since the pandemic has impacted access to child care facilities and more employees are working remotely, many workers may be at risk of losing these hard-earned funds. This bill allows working families to roll over unspent DCAP funds from 2020 to 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges for hardworking employees and their families alike, and I have continually been supportive of initiatives and funding to help them. I have heard firsthand from many working parents in my district who are concerned about the costs of childcare, particularly as the pandemic has disrupted access to many care options. This bipartisan legislation allows families the important ability to rollover the dependent care funds they rely on, ensuring their hard-earned dollars are available when they need them most. I am proud to cosponsor this and other efforts that support expanding childcare options for our North Country working parents. I look forward to advancing this legislation along with my colleagues. Read more here

Encouraging Census Participation

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Important Census Update: The Census Bureau will begin emailing households in low-responding areas to encourage them to respond to the 2020 Census. These emails supplement a final campaign reminding people to respond to the 2020 Census on their own, as census takers begin asking households to respond to the census. The email messages will come from 2020census@subscriptions.census.gov. Read more here.

How to ID a Census Taker: Check their badge. All Census Bureau employees will present an official ID badge. It will include their name, their photograph, a Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. If you are unsure, you can contact the U.S. Census Bureau.

If you have not already, be sure to fill out your 2020 Census. The census determines how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding flow into our communities, including NY-21, which will directly fund our police departments, firefighters, schools and more. In mid-April, the Census Bureau began mailing the paper questionnaire to homes that have not yet responded online or by phone. If you receive mail through a P.O. Box, the Census Bureau will not be able to send you a response form, as they require your physical address to count you at the place where you live. Only a complete street address will help the Bureau accurately count you in the right place. If you cannot receive mail at your home, a Census Bureau worker may deliver a questionnaire, leave information about responding, or interview you. You can complete the census online at my2020census.gov. You can also call the Census Bureau at (844)-330-2020. The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to keep all of your reported information confidential. Visit my website here for more information.