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Senators Casey and Wyden Release Report on Failures of Long-Term Care Facilities to Protect Nursing Home Residents from Extreme Weather Events

February 24, 2023

On February 23, 2023, the United States Senate Finance Committee and Senate Special Aging Committee released a report Left in the Dark which focuses on a catastrophic weather event in February 2021 in Texas that revealed how unprepared nursing homes were to protect residents from extreme weather events. Led By Chairs Ron Wyden and Senator Casey, the report details how widespread power outages affected nursing homes and resulted in more than 1,400 nursing home residents being evacuated.

Key finding of the report include:

  • Increased extreme weather emergencies place all nursing home residents across the country at risk.
  • Despite increased power outages, federal regulations do not require nursing homes to have back up power sources. The report also found that most states do not require assisted living facilities to maintain backup power. 
  • Understaffing in nursing homes and regulatory agencies contribute to the lack of emergency preparedness in nursing homes.

In addition to these findings, the report made strong recommendations including:

  • Passing the Real Emergency Access for Aging and Disability Inclusion for Disasters Act (READDI), which would ensure older adults and people with disabilities that reside in long-term care facilities are included in emergency and disaster planning.
  • Calling on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to issue a mandatory staffing minimum for nursing homes, which would address chronic understaffing in nursing homes.
  • Recommending Congress increase funding to state survey agencies responsible for licensing nursing home facilities and enforcing state and federal regulations.

Consumer Voice strongly supports the recommendations laid out in the Left in the Dark report. Not only does this report highlight how unprepared nursing homes are to protect residents from extreme weather events, it comes on the heels of the devastating and catastrophic events of COVID-19, which led to the deaths of nearly 200,000 nursing residents, which made clear that many nursing homes are grossly unprepared to protect residents from infections disease.

Consumer Voice thanks Senators Wyden and Casey for issuing this report and recommending strong steps to protect nursing home residents.

Read the full report.

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