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Blumenthal & Larson Introduce the Essential Caregivers Act

[Hartford, CT] – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Representative John Larson (D-CT-01), joined by U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and U.S. Representative Claudia Tenney (R-NY-24), introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Essential Caregivers Act.

This bill would protect the residents in long-term care facilities, giving all residents nationwide the right to have in person access to an essential caregiver when visitations are restricted due to a declared emergency. The bipartisan bill seeks to prevent a repeat of the isolation and lack of care that long-term care residents were unjustly subjected to during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also requires CMS to set clear and fair guidelines for essential caregivers to protect the safety of facility staff and residents.

“The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the vital role family members play in the care and wellbeing of their loved ones in long-term care facilities,” said Blumenthal. “The Essential Caregivers Act ensures that in the event of a future emergency, residents in these facilities will still be able to receive the support, care, and companionship that their family members provide. This commonsense legislation allows at least one designated essential caregiver to have safe, in-person access to their loved ones at all times—ultimately protecting the overall physical, emotional, and mental health of long-term care residents.” 

“The COVID-19 pandemic taught us that isolation hurts all of us, yet countless families were prevented from being with their loved ones during their time of need,” said Larson. “I am glad to join Rep. Tenney and Senators Blumenthal and Cornyn in this bipartisan and bicameral effort to expand visiting access for essential caregivers during future public health emergencies to ensure residents can get the support they need from their loved ones and never again face the isolation that was a reality for far too many patients.”

“Under federal law, nursing homes and long-term care facilities have the obligation to allow their residents access to caregivers,” said Tenney. “Sadly, during the COVID-19 pandemic, this right was denied to many residents and families, causing many seniors and patients to suffer and die alone. This injustice should never occur again, which is why Congressman John Larson, Senator Richard Blumenthal, and Senator John Cornyn and I introduced the Essential Caregivers Act. We must fix this loophole to protect the rights of senior citizens, those with disabilities, and their families during the next public health crisis.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic showed just how invaluable caregivers are to the physical and emotional wellbeing of long-term care facility residents and their families,” said Cornyn. “This bill would ensure residents have consistent access to their loved ones or other designated caregivers, even during public health emergencies when regular visitation may be limited.”

The legislation is cosponsored in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), Adrian Smith (R-NE-03), John Rutherford (R-FL-05), Derrick Van Orden (R-WI-03), Susan Wild, (D-PA-07), Mike Carey (R-OH-15), Mike Lawler (R-NY-17), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO-05), Susie Lee (D-NV-03), Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ-06), Don Bacon (R-NE-02), and Donald Davis (D-NC-01).

Full text of the bill is available here.

A summary is available here.