WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) — The Trump administration’s top official for Medicare and Medicaid says more help is on the way for nursing homes ravaged by the coronavirus.
But some lawmakers say the administration has been too slow to respond to these COVID-19 hotspots.
The centers for Medicaid and Medicare services administrator, Seema Verma, said the government is taking action to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the nation’s nursing homes.
“We’ve been putting out regulations, you know, almost every couple of weeks, working with the CDC, doing investigations,” Verma said.
The administration is shipping additional protective equipment to nursing homes — initially a two-week supply
“I think that FEMA has done a great job in getting supplies to the folks that need them,” Verma said.
Verma also said $81 million from the CARES Act will go toward improving infection control at nursing homes.
“It’s a good thing that they’re now talking about the infection control and putting more emphasis on that,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).
Schakowsky said unfortunately, the administration spent the months before the pandemic trying to water down infection control standards.
“In many ways, I think they’ve been kicking and screaming on their way to beginning to do some of the things we need,” Schakowsky said.
The administration has also created a new regulation requiring all nursing homes to report COVID-19 cases to the CDC.
“It’s going to increase transparency,” Verma said.
But Schakowsky said the administration’s renewed focus on nursing homes comes too late.
“If they are starting to move now, that’s a good thing,” Schakowsky said. “But this is May, we have been dealing with these problems now for several months.”
A special White House commission of industry experts, healthcare professionals and patient advocates –to focus on nursing home safety — plans to meet later this month.