April 28, 2022

NCAL, Argentum tell OSHA: COVID-19 healthcare rule could compound senior living financial, workforce crises

McKnight Senior Living

Senior living industry leaders brought their concerns about a proposed federal COVID-19 healthcare rule to the table on Wednesday in testimony reiterating their opposition to broad requirements that they call “overly prescriptive” and confusing.

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the final rule, proposed in March, will protect assisted living and other healthcare workers from exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, but the agency solicited comments on the rule through April 22 and scheduled a hearing about it that began yesterday.

In her testimony, National Center for Assisted Living Executive Director LaShuan Bethea reiterated comments that she submitted last week with American Health Care Association / NCAL Senior Vice President of Government Relations Clif Porter calling for consistency among regulatory agencies. Collaboration, she said, is critical for optimizing compliance and mitigating confusion, particularly for employers who must comply with guidance from multiple agencies.

“From the beginning, long-term care has been at the forefront of this pandemic,” Bethea testified. “We’ve experienced high-profile outbreaks, severe shortages of personal protective equipment and a lack of testing and supplies.”

Despite those challenges, she said, long-term care staff members showed up and put themselves at risk to care for the most vulnerable populations. At the same time, providers had to adapt to rapidly evolving guidance from multiple sources, which often was duplicative, and at times inconsistent — including guidance about PPE use, cleaning measures, requirements for aerosol-generating procedures, and employee vaccination.

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