Monday October 18th, 2021 4:47AM

Lawmakers: Require nursing homes to disclose vaccine data

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nursing homes have to publicly disclose their vaccination rates for flu and pneumonia but there’s no similar mandate for COVID-19 shots, even though the steepest toll from the virus has been among residents of long-term care facilities.

Now lawmakers of both parties are urging the Biden administration to require disclosure of coronavirus vaccination rates for residents and staff, and to make it easy for family members, advocacy groups and researchers to access such potentially critical details.

“The continued absence of publicly available COVID-19 vaccination information at the facility level leaves residents, workers, and their families in the dark, makes it impossible to fully evaluate the effect of these vaccines, and hinders efforts to ensure equitable vaccine access for communities of color,” Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, write in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.

The request comes as consumer advocates say it remains exceedingly difficult for family members to get coronavirus information from Medicare on individual nursing homes, either through the program's COVID-19 Nursing Home Data website, or its regular Care Compare site.

“It continues to be so problematic,” said Sam Brooks, project manager for Consumer Voice, a national advocacy group for improving quality in long-term care. “It's just daunting.”

Brooks said he was using Medicare's nursing home COVID-19 site recently, put in a facility's name, and a popular chain restaurant came up. A joint search Wednesday with a reporter turned up an animal hospital, after entering the name of a nursing home and the community it was located in.

Nursing homes have been required since last May to regularly report cases and deaths among residents and staff to the government. While aggregate numbers are easy to find online, data on individual facilities is not.

The coronavirus pandemic hit hardest among nursing home residents. Although only about 1% of the U.S. population lives in long-term care facilities, they accounted for about one-third of COVID-19 deaths as of early March, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Now deaths have plummeted as more than 2 million residents and 1.5 million staff have received at least one vaccine dose. Nursing homes are again allowing loved ones to visit, and hugs are included.

But there's evidence Americans have grown wary. A poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research last year found that 60% percent would be very concerned if an aging friend or family member needed long-term care in a nursing home during the pandemic, and another 27% would be moderately concerned.

Wyden chairs the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees Medicare and Medicaid, and Crapo is the ranking Republican. Joining their request to the Biden administration are their counterparts on the Special Committee on Aging, Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Tim Scott, R-S.C. Medicare and Medicaid pay most of the nation's bill for nursing home care and set standards.

The main nursing home industry trade group, the American Health Care Association, says it supports disclosure of vaccination data. So does LeadingAge, an association representing nonprofit facilities. But working out the details could be tricky. It's one thing to deliver data to the government, or to tech-savvy researchers, and another thing to translate it so it's readily available to families.

“We believe that accessible, timely and credible information about operations and care practices is a must to establishing a trusting and productive relationship between nursing homes, care providers, residents and families,” LeadingAge spokeswoman Lisa Sanders said in a statement.

There was no immediate response from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Wyden and Crapo said current government policy that encourages nursing homes to voluntarily report vaccination data to the government has only led to “limited participation by the industry.”

The government should require nursing homes to break down vaccination data by race and ethnicity, given disparities in vaccine acceptance.

Reports that many nursing home workers have been reluctant to get vaccinated raise additional concerns, the lawmakers added. Researchers believe that one of the main routes the virus gets into facilities is through workers who unwittingly bring it in from the community. Because of high staff turnover in the low-wage industry, it's possible that vaccination rates among staff at individual facilities may actually fall with time.

“Such concerns underscore the urgency of moving forward with the collection of COVID-19 vaccine information, and publishing these data as soon as possible,” wrote Wyden and Crapo.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Health, AP Business, AP Business - Consumer News, AP Health - Senior Health, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Health Care, AP Business - Personal Finance
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Lawmakers: Require nursing homes to disclose vaccine data
Nursing homes have to publicly disclose their vaccination rates for flu and pneumonia, but there’s no similar mandate for COVID-19 shots
12:27AM ( 4 minutes ago )
Amid growing challenges, Biden to hold first news conference
The White House is hoping to use President Joe Biden's first news conference since taking office to celebrate passage of the giant COVID-19 relief package
12:22AM ( 10 minutes ago )
Mass shooters exploited gun laws, loopholes before carnage
The suspects in the most recent shooting sprees found it relatively easy to get their guns
12:18AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Philippine leader orders mayors investigated
The Philippine president has ordered at least nine city and town mayors investigated for possible charges after they reportedly jumped ahead of a priority list led by 1.7 million health workers and got injected with COVID-19 vaccine amid a shortage in supply
11:43PM ( 48 minutes ago )
The Latest: US tops 30 million confirmed cases of COVID-19
The U.S. has now surpassed 30 million confirmed cases of COVID-19
8:44PM ( 3 hours ago )
US report: Bald eagle populations soar in lower 48 states
The number of American bald eagles has quadrupled since 2009, with more than 300,000 birds soaring over the lower 48 states
8:36PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
AstraZeneca confirms strong vaccine protection after US rift
AstraZeneca insisted Wednesday that its COVID-19 vaccine is strongly effective even after counting additional illnesses in its disputed U.S. study, the latest in an extraordinary public rift with American officials
11:26PM ( 1 hour ago )
Hong Kong vaccination drive struggles to gain public trust
Hong Kong’s sudden suspension of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech has been another blow to its vaccination program
11:23PM ( 1 hour ago )
Brighter outlook for US as vaccinations rise and deaths fall
More than three months into the U.S. vaccination drive, many of the numbers paint an increasingly encouraging picture
8:34PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Health
Stuck ship in Egypt's Suez Canal imperils shipping worldwide
At least 150 vessels are waiting to use the Suez Canal after a skyscraper-sized cargo ship wedged across the vital waterway
11:03PM ( 1 hour ago )
CEO says Harry hire is a natural fit, not a publicity stunt
The CEO of a firm that provides companies with mental health services and coaching says it hired Prince Harry because of his years of work on the issues it addresses
10:13PM ( 2 hours ago )
Arizona town calls state of emergency over migrant arrivals
A small town in Arizona has declared a state of emergency over the number of asylum seekers being dropped off within town limits
9:20PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business
Google gets into sleep surveillance with new Nest Hub screen
Google’s next internet-connected home device will test whether consumers are willing to trust the company on a new frontier: monitoring their sleep
3:01PM ( 1 week ago )
Biden consumer watchdog pick signals more aggressive stance
President Joe Biden’s nominee to run the federal consumer watchdog agency has indicated that if confirmed he would restore more aggressive enforcement actions against companies and banks that largely faded during the Trump administration
5:09PM ( 3 weeks ago )
Biden picks Chopra, Gensler for financial oversight roles
President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Rohit Chopra as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, tapping a progressive ally of Sen. Elizabeth Warren to helm the agency whose creation she championed
5:41PM ( 2 months ago )
AP Business - Consumer News
Alternatives to nursing homes get $12B boost in COVID-19 law
The memory of the coronavirus pandemic’s awful toll in nursing homes is still raw
6:16AM ( 18 hours ago )
Alternatives to nursing homes get $12B boost in COVID bill
The memory of the coronavirus pandemic’s awful toll in nursing homes is still raw
5:18AM ( 19 hours ago )
The Latest: Sinovac: CoronaVac vaccine effective in children
 Sinovac says its COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac is safe and effective in children ages 3-17
12:53AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Health - Senior Health
States sue to undo Biden pause on US oil & gas lease sales
Louisiana and a dozen other states are suing the Biden administration to end a suspension of oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters
6:02PM ( 6 hours ago )
The Latest: Poland, church urge distancing during services
Amid a spike in new COVID-19 cases, Poland’s health care and Catholic Church authorities have appealed to all parish priests to strictly observe the limit of attendance and distancing at church services, and especially during next month’s Easter holiday
5:36PM ( 6 hours ago )
Congress questions Texas officials about power grid failure
Congress is looking into the cause of last month's power blackouts across Texas
5:21PM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
The Latest: Belgium heads to lockdown amid spike in cases
Belgium is reintroducing strict lockdown measures in response to a surge of new coronavirus infections
10:10AM ( 14 hours ago )
Hong Kong halts use of Pfizer vaccine, cites defective lids
Hong Kong has suspended vaccinations using Pfizer shots after the Chinese distributor informed the city that one batch had defective bottle lids
9:29AM ( 15 hours ago )
The Latest: EU moves to stricter export controls on vaccines
The European Union is moving toward stricter export controls to ensure there are more COVID-19 vaccine supplies for the bloc
8:42AM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Business - Health Care
Erdogan urges investors to trust Turkey's economy, potential
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged investors to have confidence in Turkey’s economy days after he fired his third central bank governor in less than two years
11:17AM ( 13 hours ago )
Colorado shooting victims: Store staffers, cop, photographer
Three of the victims of a shooting at a Colorado supermarket were gunned down while putting in a day’s work
12:27AM ( 1 day ago )
Biden to talk up health insurance cost cuts in visit to Ohio
President Joe Biden is going to Ohio to showcase health insurance cost cuts at what may be the best time for Democrats to talk up the Affordable Care Act since it became law
6:09AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Personal Finance
Amid growing challenges, Biden to hold first news conference
The White House is hoping to use President Joe Biden's first news conference since taking office to celebrate passage of the giant COVID-19 relief package
12:22AM ( 10 minutes ago )
Mass shooters exploited gun laws, loopholes before carnage
The suspects in the most recent shooting sprees found it relatively easy to get their guns
12:18AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Biden taps VP Harris to lead response to border challenges
President Joe Biden has tapped Vice President Kamala Harris to lead the White House effort to tackle the migration challenge at the U.S. southern border
12:10AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Snowboarders escaped monster avalanche, but not the law
Two Colorado snowboarders who triggered a slide that destroyed an expensive avalanche mitigation system are going on trial on charges of reckless endangerment
12:09AM ( 23 minutes ago )
Reforms pushed in George Floyd's native Texas as trial nears
Lawmakers in Texas are taking up a sweeping police reform package named in honor of Houston native George Floyd
12:06AM ( 26 minutes ago )