Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, has proposed legislation that would provide approximately $500 million to hospital systems to help lower the rate of COVID-19 related deaths in nursing and personal care homes.
Turzai’s legislation would designate at least one health system in six regions to receive the funds to administer or manage personnel, protocols, testing and expenditures to ensure the elder-care facilities can protect their residents.
Turzai’s proposal came as the state Department of Health reported that nearly 70% of the Commonwealth’s 3,416 COVID-related deaths were nursing or personal care home residents.
“These settings are not fully equipped to protect their residents; we need the expertise of Pennsylvania’s outstanding academic medical experts, who are located in every region of the state,” Turzai said.
The $500 million for the program would come from the $3.9 billion in COVID-19 funding the state received from the federal government and would be distributed by the Commonwealth Financing Authority.
The legislation was created with help from experts at UPMC in Pittsburgh, which prepared a prototype for how the program could be implemented in southwest Pennsylvania.
“Pennsylvania needs to protect our most vulnerable citizens, our seniors, many with underlying health issues,” he said. “This proposal, developed by medical experts in our state, is a direct response to the COVID-19 crisis here.”