In the wake of nursing home resident deaths following Hurricane Irma and pictures of Houston-area assisted living residents who were photographed sitting in waist-deep water due to the flooding that followed Hurricane Harvey, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced S. 1834, the Protecting Seniors During Disasters Act with bipartisan support. The legislation calls for the appointment of a National Advisory Committee on Seniors and Disasters, made up of officials from the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal agencies, to evaluate the medical and public health needs of seniors in emergency situations and consult with state authorities on preparedness and response.
The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, of which Senator Nelson is a member, followed the bill introduction with a hearing on September 20, 2017, to further discuss disaster preparedness and response as it relates to the special needs of older Americans.
LeadingAge provided a statement for the hearing record commending the Committee for its focus on the special needs of seniors in disaster situations. LeadingAge also addressed the impending Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) emergency preparedness rule, due to go into effect on November 15, that will require virtually all health care providers to have emergency preparedness plans in place. The emergency preparedness rules are intended to address many of the goals highlighted in the Nelson legislation.
A related House bill, H.R.3826, was introduced by Representative Lois Frankel (D-FL) and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.