The impact of COVID-19 on the nation’s nursing homes has been devastating. Since the pandemic began, COVID has killed over 135,000 residents and staff and infected another 1.2 million within the walls of these facilities.
In response to this unparalleled crisis, policymakers are evaluating a number of potential solutions aimed at protecting vulnerable long-term care residents and staff. The American Bar Association (ABA) is now also weighing in by adopting a resolution calling for smaller nursing home facilities with single occupancy rooms. Specifically, the ABA:
- “Urges the U.S. Congress and Department of Health and Human Services to institute a review of the advisability and feasibility of phasing in size and design standards for nursing homes that would require small, household model facilities with single rooms and private baths, given their safety and infection control advantages.”
- “Urges Congress and the executive branch to provide financial incentives for the development and operation of nursing homes meeting size and design standards pursuant to this review” including such avenues as “restructuring the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), tax incentives under the Internal Revenue Service, or actions by other executive branch agencies to provide or encourage low cost financing for redesign, remodeling, building and rebuilding of nursing homes meeting these standards.”
- “Urges the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to change Medicare and Medicaid regulations and payment policies to pay for single private rooms and bathrooms for all residents, with reasonable reimbursement rates for such rooms.”
The director of the ABA Commission on Law and Aging, Charles Sabatino, recently co-wrote an article with Dr. Charlene Harrington, Professor Emeritus, at the University of California, San Francisco, “Policy Change Putting the Home Back into Nursing Homes” that provides the background and reasoning for this resolution.
August 12, 2021 – C. St. John
 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. COVID-19 Nursing Home Data. CMS Data. (Updated July 25, 2021). Available at: https://data.cms.gov/covid-19/covid-19-nursing-home-data