“We must protect the health and safety of our elderly population but physical distancing should not force them to be cut off from loved ones, and risk social isolation,” Rep. Meng said.
By Forum Staff
Legislation has been introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives that seeks to help those in nursing homes electronically connect with family members and doctors during the COVID-19 crisis, one of the measure’s sponsors, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), recently announced.
The bipartisan Advancing Connectivity during the Coronavirus to Ensure Support for Seniors (ACCESS) Act would protect these vulnerable populations from risking exposure to COVID-19 by increasing their access to remote health care, and their ability to connect with loved ones and caregivers online.
According to Meng, the ACCESS Act would: Authorize an emergency supplemental appropriation of $50 million for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Telehealth Resource Center to assist nursing facilities receiving funding through Medicare or Medicaid in expanding their use of telehealth services;
require the secretary of HHS to share recommendations on additional ways to improve access to telehealth services in nursing facilities and temporarily designated nursing facilities during the pandemic; and establish a grant program authorizing HHS to award nursing facilities grants to enable residents to participate in “virtual visits” with loved ones while the health risk of in-person visits remains high during the pandemic.
“We must protect the health and safety of our elderly population but physical distancing should not force them to be cut off from loved ones, and risk social isolation,” Meng said.“This legislation would help ensure this does not happen, and that nursing homes residents can remain in touch with their family members and health care providers.”