Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (NY-21), along with Reps. Claudia Tenney (NY-22), John B. Larson (CT-01), John Rutherford (FL-04), Yvette Herrell (NM-02), Madison Cawthorn (NC-11), Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Ted Budd (NC-13), and Abigail Spanberger (VA-07) have introduced the bipartisan Essential Caregivers Act – a bill to protect residents of long-term care facilities and allow them to access up to two designated essential caregivers during a public health emergency.
Specifically, the bill designates up to two individuals who can be designated as an Essential Caregiver by a facility resident in the event of a public health emergency. These Essential Caregivers are required to follow the same safety protocols as facility staff during visitations and can assist in developing treatment plans, communication with medical professionals, and advocate on behalf of the patient.
“Residents of long-term care facilities across the country were stripped of their rights to communicate with their families and caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “I have spoken with countless loved ones of residents who suffered alone throughout the duration of the pandemic and were victims of Governor Cuomo’s negligent nursing home policies. This bill seeks to ensure those residents have better access to their designated essential caregivers and advocates who can speak on their behalf to raise issues and help make decisions about their care to make sure this never happens again.”
"Nursing home residents have the right under federal law to access caregivers. Sadly, this right was taken away from residents and families for more than a year during the pandemic. It was an absolute injustice, leading so many seniors to suffer alone in isolation. I am honored that the Essential Caregivers Act continues to gain support in Congress and thank Congressman John B. Larson for his leadership in making this a bipartisan effort," said Congresswoman Tenney. "The Essential Caregivers Act fixes a loophole in current federal law to better protect the rights of seniors and those with disabilities during any future public health emergency. Individuals residing in long-term care facilities have rights, and it is up to Congress to make sure they are protected."
Read more about the bill here.