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Bill Nelson files bill to create HHS committee on seniors in disasters

Legislation comes in the aftermath of Hollywood nursing home tragedy

Sen. Bill Nelson has filed a bill that would create a Health and Human Services committee on seniors and disasters.

The bill, announced in a Tuesday release, has bipartisan support, Nelson said in a Tuesday release. Its co-sponsors fellow Floridian and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

“This bill will require the head of HHS to appoint a panel of experts to provide our state and local leaders with the guidance they need to make sure such a tragedy never happens again,” Nelson said in the release.

Nelson filed the bill the same week the senator obliquely criticized his likely 2018 re-election opponent, Gov. Rick Scott for how he responded to the nursing home tragedy. (Scott has pushed back on those criticisms.) 

Here’s the full text of the release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) filed legislation today to create a national advisory committee to look for ways to better prepare and care for our nation’s seniors during a disaster, such as Hurricane Irma, which led to the deaths of eight seniors in a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida.

“What happened in Hollywood is inexcusable,” Nelson said. “This bill will require the head of HHS to appoint a panel of experts to provide our state and local leaders with the guidance they need to make sure such a tragedy never happens again.”

The bipartisan bill – cosponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA) – would require the secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a National Advisory Committee on Seniors and Disasters. The 15-member panel would be appointed by the secretary of HHS and made up of federal and local agency officials, as well as non-federal health care professionals with expertise in disaster response.

Once established, the panel would be charged with providing guidance to local, state and federal officials on how to better prepare seniors for an emergency, how to better evaluate their health needs during an emergency and what activities should be carried out when an emergency is declared.

The legislation filed today now heads to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions for consideration.

A copy of the bill text is available here.

 

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