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Advocates Call on CMS to Restore Full Visitation Rights

June 15, 2021

Consumer Voice, along with partner advocates, have sent a letter calling on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to fully restore the visitation rights of nursing home residents.

In March 2020, CMS issued guidance which closed nursing home doors, banned in-person visitation, and, in many cases, left nursing home residents confined to their rooms.  While the guidance was initially put in place to protect residents from the impact of COVID-19, over time it has resulted in residents declining, suffering, and dying from isolation, loneliness, neglect, and poor care. 

Despite additional guidance from CMS in September 2020 and March 2021 allowing more indoor and outdoor visitation, varying state policies and significant discretion provided to long-term care facilities has resulted in widespread and arbitrary variation in visitation practices, often not reflecting the needs and preferences of the residents, nor the presence, or lack thereof, of COVID-19 in a facility.   As a result, residents continue to suffer and decline.

With the success of vaccination efforts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) easing of masking and social distancing measures in nursing homes, it is time to remove restrictions on visitation rights. While recognizing that all visitation needs to comply with CDC Core Principles of Infection Prevention, our organizations call on CMS to take immediate action to restore nursing home residents’ full right to visitation and lay out a plan and timeframe for implementation.

Read the letter.

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