A key U.S. Senate panel approved 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.
By a vote of 22 – 1, the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved legislation sponsored by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) to create a 15-member National Advisory Committee on Seniors and Disasters to provide guidance to local, state and federal officials on how to better prepare seniors for an emergency, such as a hurricane or other natural disaster.
Nelson filed the bill last September in the wake of Hurricane Irma and the tragic deaths of eight seniors in a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida.
“What happened in Hollywood is inexcusable,” Nelson said when the bill was introduced. “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 measure, cosponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA) and approved today as part of a broader bill, would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a panel made up of federal and local agency officials, as well as non-federal health care professionals with expertise in disaster response.
Once established, that panel would then be charged with creating and 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 steps should be taken when an emergency is declared.
The bill now heads to the full Senate for a vote.
A copy of the bill text is available here.