Measures protect seniors in nursing homes; reopen unemployment, SOS offices
State Rep. Beau LaFave and the Michigan House have approved several measures to continue protecting Michigan families from COVID-19 and craft a smarter plan of action for the remainder of the pandemic.
LaFave, of Iron Mountain, said the proposals would protect nursing home residents, extend unemployment benefits, and safely reopen local unemployment offices and Secretary of State branches in the wake of the recent Michigan Supreme Court ruling that struck down the governor’s coronavirus-related executive orders.
“I know firsthand that COVID-19 is very real, and it’s even more of a threat for our vulnerable residents,” LaFave said. “It’s great that the Michigan Supreme Court ruling has brought everyone back to the table, so we can improve our state’s response to the pandemic moving forward.”
Senate Bill 1094 and House Bill 6137, which received overwhelming bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, would reduce the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes by implementing common-sense recommendations made by the Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force. The measures would prohibit the return of COVID-19-positive residents to nursing facilities unless they have fully recovered, or the facility has established a state-approved dedicated area to care for people with the virus. In addition, the plan allows safe and responsible in-person visitations for all nursing home residents, requires health data reporting and a plan to address the testing needs for our most vulnerable.
“The situation in our nursing homes is dire,” LaFave said. “About a third of our state’s coronavirus-related deaths have been nursing home residents, and it pains me to think about how many lives could have been spared if the governor had just engaged with legislators and health experts before she implemented such awful policies. Our plan fixes the flaws identified by the nursing homes task force to better protect the mental and physical wellbeing of our vulnerable nursing home residents.”
Senate Bill 886 safeguards the Unemployment Insurance Agency benefits put in place to address the pandemic and guarantees those claims will continue uninterrupted for the maximum number of weeks allowed by the federal government. The plan would protect workers who left work to self-isolate or quarantine, as well as people who are immunocompromised or need to care for a family member diagnosed with COVID-19. It also ensures job providers will continue to be held harmless for unemployment benefit charges if their employees were laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This measure also received overwhelming bipartisan support from legislators.
Other measures approved by the House today would:
- Provide flexibility to allow licensed health care workers such as physician assistants, registered nurses and pharmacists to continue testing people for the coronavirus (HB 6293).
- Extend the validity of vehicle registrations, driver’s licenses and state identification cards that expired after March 2020, and waive late fees associated with renewing expired documents (HBs 5756, 5757, 6192).
- Establish a plan to open state unemployment offices and Secretary of State branches to better serve the public (SB 748).
- Allow important documents, such as wills, deeds and other forms to be signed and witnessed electronically through the end of 2020 (HBs 6294-97).
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