Safety for Care Facilities and Essential Workers

Concurrent Session Block 3: 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. ET Thursday, September 17


Implementation and Enforcement of Quality and Safety in Long-Term Care
Long before COVID-19 struck, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities had declining quality care that coincided with inadequate staffing and rampant infections. These pre-pandemic conditions increased the vulnerability of these facilities to an infectious disease outbreak. As the elderly death toll rises into the tens of thousands, an overdue national discussion on how to prioritize long-term care in the US has emerged, revealing an opportunity to better link quality care metrics with sufficient reimbursement and meaningful regulatory oversight. However, the opposite approach has also surfaced, which would allow the status quo to continue and may erode the minimum standards of care that currently exist. This session will discuss efforts to relax the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulatory authority over nursing homes along with states’ actions in passing measures to limit liability exposure for nursing homes during COVID-19, and the need for legislative reform that will lead to better later-in-life care.

  • Tara Sklar, JD, University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law

Protecting Essential Workers during COVID-19
States and localities have designated more than 55 million Americans as “essential workers” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most essential workers are employed in health care and in food and agriculture. A majority of all essential health care workers are women, while half of all essential food and agricultural workers are racial and ethnic minorities. Consequently, many women and racial and ethnic minorities are unable to shelter at home or socially distance themselves even when they are sick because they are deemed essential workers. While they are deemed as essential, these workers have not been provided with the employment and safety protections that are essential to keeping them and their families healthy and safe. This session will discuss the measures that states and the federal government need to take to ensure adequate health and economic protections for essential workers.

  • Ruqaiijah Yearby, JD, MPH, Professor, School of Law, Center for Health Law Studies and Executive Director and Co-Founder, Institute for Healing Justice and Equity, Saint Louis University School of Law