Neal and DelBene Demand Answers from CMS Regarding Nursing Homes’ Coronavirus Preparedness and Response

Mar 3, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) and Ways and Means Committee member Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA) sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator, Seema Verma, calling on the agency to provide information regarding its engagement with nursing homes to prevent the introduction and spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) within and between facilities. The members requested the information immediately following the tragic news of multiple deaths resulting from an outbreak at the Life Care Center of Kirkland, Washington. 
“The effects of the COVID-19 vary by age and underlying health status and are particularly acute for vulnerable individuals – specifically, older people with cardiovascular disease or Diabetes mellitus,” wrote Neal and DelBene. “In China, the case fatality rate was 2.3 percent on average but was as high as 14.8 percent in those aged 80 years and older and 10.5 percent for those with chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease. These rates are significantly worse than influenza, which has a case fatality rate between 0.5-1 percent. Such associations make it all the more crucial that nursing homes across the country exercise swift and effective responses to the spread of the virus.”
To ensure the Trump Administration is taking all necessary steps to protect this particularly vulnerable population, Chairman Neal and Congresswoman DelBene asked Administrator Verma to detail the current procedures CMS has in place to assist skilled nursing facilities and nursing facilities to address the spread of viruses among nursing home residents and front-line workers. The members also requested all information related to the Administration’s response to the Washington state outbreak, as well as any action the Administration’s coronavirus task force takes on issues related to skilled nursing facilities, nursing facilities, and Medicare providers. 
Neal and DelBene asked for a response from CMS within the next 72 hours. 
Full text of the letter is available HERE