Gopal Introduces Bipartisan Bill Addressing Outbreaks at Long-Term Care Facilities

TRENTON - New bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal and Assemblyman Ron Dancer would establish a Long-Term Care Facility Infectious Disease Preparedness and Home Health Care Study Commission that would analyze the ability of long-term care facilities to respond to an infectious disease outbreak and determine new methods to encourage home health care in New Jersey.

Under the bipartisan bill (S2432/A4015), the commission would also analyze whether long-term care (LTC) facilities - such as a veterans’ home, nursing home, assisted living residence, comprehensive personal care home, residential health care facility, or dementia care home - have a sufficient number of employees to meet residents’ needs in the event of an infectious disease outbreak. This commission would then make recommendations on how LTC facilities can better respond to this kind of outbreak, retain home health aides, and encourage home health care.

The bill defines “home health care” to mean nursing and other home health care services given to a person in their place of residence on a part-time and intermittent basis (except when full-time or 24-hour services are needed on a short-term basis) in lieu of continuing hospitalization and under the direction of a practicing physician.

No later than 12 months after its initial meeting, the commission would submit a written report to the Governor and Legislature detailing its findings.

“Our long-term care facilities have been hit hard by COVID-19, and we need to take immediate steps to ensure that this never happens again,” said Senator Gopal (D-Long Branch). “As Chair of the Senate Military & Veterans Affairs Committee, I am determined to make sure that our veterans and their families have complete confidence in their safety under our care. We need a substantive, robust, and bipartisan plan to keep these residents safe, protect health aides from this disease, and crack down on any infectious outbreak before it can put any facility in danger.”

“This pandemic has revealed a grim reality - the residents at greatest risk of infectious outbreaks are those residing in these long-term care facilities, whether at veterans’ homes, nursing homes, assisted living residences, or similar,” said Assemblyman Dancer (R-Cream Ridge). “We must take real steps to ensure these residents can recover or receive care from home while curbing the spread of infectious outbreaks among these clustered, vulnerable communities.”