Harrisburg -- Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R - Allegheny) has worked with UPMC health experts to develop a new bill to protect seniors and others living in Pennsylvania's nursing homes, personal care homes, and assisted living residences. The bill includes a framework to help keep residences of these facilities safe.
“Pennsylvania needs to protect our most vulnerable citizens, our seniors, many with underlying health issues. This proposal, developed by medical experts in our state, is a direct response to the COVID-19 crisis here. These settings are not fully equipped to protect their residents; we need the expertise of Pennsylvania’s outstanding academic medical experts, who are located in every region of the state,” Speaker Turzai said.
As reported on May 7, Pennsylvania has had 3,416 COVID-19 deaths, and 69% of those were citizens who lived in nursing or personal care homes. In the Speaker's home county, 90 of 117 deaths were among nursing and care home residents.
Speaker Turzai's legislation would establish a public-private partnership to administer and manage personnel, protocols, testing, and expenditures to protect seniors in these facilities. According to Speaker Turzai, the collaboration would ensure consistency of programs, responses, and studies.
At the Speaker's request, UPMC experts prepared a prototype plan for Southwest Pennsylvania and a construct for the entire state.
The legislation will also provide $500 million from Pennsylvania's allotment of $3.9 billion in COVID-19 funding from the federal government. The Speaker plans to use the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) to distribute funds. The funding is intended to go to private sector entities (required to be academic health systems) that can provide oversight and take charge of implementation. The state would be divided into regions delineating all facilities within their parameters - 697 nursing homes statewide, 1,143 personal care homes, and 58 assisted living facilities.
The full text of the bill has not yet been released.