House Bill 1247, a supplemental budget measure to fund nursing home providers, advanced closer to final passage after advancing from its third reading on Thursday. The bill provides an additional $27 million to the state’s budget to ensure nursing homes and congregate care settings had the adequate staffing and equipment necessary to meet critical care needs.
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The bill unanimously passed the House Joint Budget Committee hearing in December and has been prioritized in the supplemental budget package to ensure critical care services are provided. The bill’s advocates point out that because of the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on seniors and their care providers, additional resources for nursing homes are vital to the health and well-being of Colorado’s older population.
“Our nursing homes are struggling. They have taken in patients during a very tough time through COVID and unfortunately have had to deal with a lot of the strains that the pandemic has brought upon us. And because of the lack of resources, they are unable at times to take in the patients that they need to take in,” said Rep. Leslie Herod (D-Denver), the bill’s lead sponsor, during her testimony on the House floor.
There have been some 28,000 COVID-19 infections and more than 1,900 deaths among nursing home residents and staff reported since April 2020. An estimated 2,000 workers have left the nursing home industry during that same period, causing a staff shortage which has forced providers to stop accepting new residents due to the inability to properly manage the elders already under their care.
If HB 1247 is approved, the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing would appropriate the funding to nursing homes and use a reporting mechanism to prevent misappropriation. It remains on the house floor for further consideration.
“This bill will allow them (nursing homes) the funding to ensure that they have adequate staffing and funding for their staff, to ensure that they have adequate equipment and safety equipment to ensure that everyone in their home is kept safe, and quite frankly to ensure that we’re not closing down nursing homes or not allowing patients into these homes who need access to that critical care,” said Herod.