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Bill to permit ‘essential caregivers’ in nursing homes clears committee

Legislation to permit designated family members to visit long-term care facilities as “essential caregivers” has cleared the Health Committee.

State Representative Kathy Rapp (R-65) is the prime sponsor of HB 2861 and also the chair of the Health Committee.

“I’m sure you’ve received letters from constituents very concerned about our elderly constituents in facilities and not having the ability to have visits from family, loved ones,” Rapp said in a recent committee hearing.

“That is what prompted me, in seeing the legislation from other two states, to bring this bill forward.”

The legislation would permit a designated individual to serve as the “essential caregiver” for a resident of a long-term care nursing facility, “during a declaration of disaster emergency.

“An essential caregiver shall meet the necessary qualifications to enter the long-term care facility to provide in-person physical or emotional support to a resident of a long-term care facility,” the legislation states.

A statement from Rapp’s offices indicates Minnesota and Indiana have enacted similar provisions.

Rapp said she is “very happy” the administration is taking the same steps as the legislation.

“”Other states have already taken the necessary steps to protect the physical health of long-term care residents and also to support their mental health and emotional well-being,” she said in statement. “By creating the essential caregiver program, both Indiana and Minnesota established screening protocols and other additional safeguards to allow family members to take an active role in the long-term care and treatment of their loved ones. Now is the time for Pennsylvania (to do) the same.”

The bill now advances to the whole House for consideration.

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