RALNA Legislative Update June 14, 2021

A Brief Overview of Some Visitation Related Legislation in Response to COVID-19 Limitations

In response to COVID-19, states took steps to limit the spread of the virus that included prohibiting visitors to long-term care facilities. As a result, some states are now adopting legislation to ensure that visitors cannot be entirely prohibited from these facilities. Some of the proposed legislation is summarized below:

Connecticut: Legislation has been proposed that would allow residents in a long-term care facility to designate a “primary essential support person” and “secondary essential support person” that would be allowed visitation even if general visitation is restricted.

Michigan: Emergency health orders may not prohibit a “patient representative” from visiting a resident of a health care facility (including assisted living facilities). Facilities can, however, still impose reasonable safety measures on such a visit like testing and prescreening. A patient representative can be a family member, patient advocate who is incharge of writing a will, or power of attorney to the resident.

Ohio: Long-term care facilities must allow a “compassionate caregiver” to provide in-person visitation to a resident in “compassionate care situations.” Compassionate care situations are not limited by the examples listed in the bill; however, they may look like: resident’s end of life, a resident grieving the loss of a friend or family member, or a resident exhibiting signs of distress.

Texas: Companion Senate and House bills in Texas provide that an assisted living facility resident has the right to designate at least one essential caregiver with whom the facility may not prohibit in-person visitation. This essential caregiver can be a family member, friend, or other individual. Additionally, a separate bill ensures that a health care facility (including assisted living facilities) cannot prevent a resident from receiving in-person visitation with a religious counselor. Religious counselors can be prohibited if federal law requires it during a public health emergency.

Other states with visitation bills pending include:

Georgia – Essential visitors must be allowed to visit residents.

Illinois – Visitation by designated caregivers must be allowed.

Indiana – Residential care facility must develop protocols to allow visitations by next of kin, designee, or powers of attorney.

Louisiana – Provides relative to visitation of nursing home residents and assisted living facility residents by persons designated as essential caregivers or compassionate care visitors.

Maryland – Would ensure visitation from designated essential caregiver.

New Jersey – Residents of a long-term care facility may designate up to two individuals who shall be authorized to engage in indoor visitation with the resident. The designation of authorized visitors pursuant to this paragraph shall remain in effect until the outbreak, epidemic, or pandemic is no longer affecting or likely to affect the long-term care facility.

Rhode Island – Creates the right of access to the facility of essential caregivers (like family or a friend) to provide physical or emotional support for a resident during a declared emergency.

Wisconsin – The bill allows a resident to designate an essential visitor to visit and provide support for the resident. Visitors must agree to comply with the public health policies of the assisted living facility.

States that have signed visitation bills into law include:

Alabama – Guarantees visitation by at least one caregiver or visitor for residents in health care facilities.

Arkansas – Residents in residential care or assisted living are allowed a support person for visitation.

South Dakota – Assisted living residents can designate one person to have unrestricted visitation rights.

West Virginia – Family members may visit sick loved ones during declared public health emergencies, so long as the facilities and visitors follow the appropriate procedures.

You can check the RALNA Legislative Tracker for real-time updates on the proposed legislation that we’re watching:

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