New data indicate another surge of the COVID-19 virus is beginning, heightening the urgency for Ohio lawmakers to pass commonsense legislation to protect nursing home residents.
Specifically, AARP Ohio supports Substitute House Bill 461, which establishes a private room per day rate to be added as part of a nursing facility's per Medicaid day payment rate calculation. AARP Ohio also supports HB625/SB325, which requires a re-basing of nursing facility Medicaid rates. Both bills will make meaningful progress to ensure that state funding is delivering its primary purpose of providing a sufficient amount of high-quality care to residents and improving staffing levels.
"Poor quality care in nursing homes is not acceptable under any circumstances, not even during a pandemic," said Holly Holtzen, State Director of AARP Ohio. "These bills are the first of many long-overdue steps the state must take to improve safety and enact positive change for Ohioans, including the conditions for both staff and residents of long-term care facilities.
Among other benefits, the bills incentivize nursing facilities to offer single-occupancy rooms, which studies show can improve certain aspects of safety for nursing home residents.
A recent report provided by the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard shows that nursing home residents in Ohio have been hit especially hard during the pandemic. Since January 2020, nearly 10,000 residents have died—a quarter of all COVID-19 deaths in the state, significantly higher than the national average.
"We are asking our lawmakers to take action to protect nursing home residents," Holtzen said.
The dashboard also indicates cases are once again on the rise. While cases and deaths in the four-week period ending April 17 covered by this month's dashboard are lower than the previous month, the number of new weekly cases increased during this period, both in Ohio and nationally. This trend is accelerating: according to data from the CDC, in the two weeks since April 17, there have already been more cases reported than during all four weeks covered by this month's dashboard.
"The numbers show another wave of COVID-19 is upon us and gaining steam. Now is the time to ensure safe, high-quality care for Ohioans living in nursing homes," Holtzen said.
For more information, check out the full Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard, as well as an AARP story about this period's data. For information on how coronavirus is impacting nursing homes and AARP's advocacy on this issue, visit aarp.org/nursinghomes. Medicare's Care Compare website now offers information about vaccination and booster rates within individual nursing homes, and how they compare to state and national averages.
For more on this issue
10 Steps to Reform and Improve Nursing Homes
Video Monitoring: Protect Your Loved Ones in Nursing Homes
Added Protection: Spurred by Abuse Case, New Ohio Law Allows Video Monitoring in Nursing Homes
This story is provided by AARP Ohio. Visit the AARP Ohio page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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