A new proposal could require facilities to provide continued visitation to essential caregivers,
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even during public health emergencies. If passed, the new law would apply to skilled nursing and other care facilities receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding.
The Essential Caregivers Act was recently introduced and would create the Essential Caregiver Program under the Social Security Act. It would give residents the ability to designate two individuals as essential caregivers. Those individuals would be allowed to visit for up to 12 hours a day, even during a public health emergency.
Mandatory safety protocols would have to be followed by caregivers and if providers have to deny visitation, written justification to residents and caregivers would have to be provided within 24 hours of a planned visit.
According to Rep. Claudia Tenney, one of the lawmakers who introduced the proposal,
“Essential caregivers are not just visitors. They are caregivers in every sense of the word. They help with activities of daily living and provide emotional support and companionship. This support enriches the lives of residents, enhances their wellbeing, and helps them thrive physically, emotionally and socially.”
In the past, industry leaders have asked the federal government to rethink visitation restrictions. The new bipartisan proposal was introduced last month.