GOP blocked protections for vulnerable seniors; Pandemic intensified damage

The Republican majority in the Senate failed to move a bill that called for minimum help for our state’s elderly in long-term care facilities. The pandemic has laid bare that under-funding in times of crisis can kill.

July 10, 2020

DES MOINES — The Iowa Long-Term Care Ombudsman’s Office has issued a state report showing that there was a sharp decline in Iowa nursing home facility visits, advocacy and training in a 12-month period ending September 30, 2019.

According to a review of the report by the Iowa Capital Dispatch:
“…of the nation’s 50 state long-term care ombudsmen, Iowa ranks last in on-site visits made to care facilities. In 2018, the Iowa office visited, at least quarterly, just 10% of all the state’s care facilities. The national average was 72%.” (

Iowa has a large population of vulnerable seniors living in facilities across the state. During the 2020 session of the Iowa Legislature, a broad group of Iowa organizations supported Senate File 2278, legislation which called for an adequate budget to hire more help, make regular and unannounced visits to the state’s nursing homes and cover costs of those visits.

“It’s shameful that the Republican majority in the Senate would not move a bill that called for minimum help for our state’s elderly, who live in long-term care facilities,” said Senator Liz Mathis, the ranking member of the Senate Human Resources Committee. “Now during a pandemic, this neglect has laid bare that under-funding at a time of crisis can kill. We have lost nearly 400 Iowa seniors to coronavirus.”

The Republicans who control the Iowa Senate chose not to hold a hearing of any kind on Senate File 2278. The bill was supported by a broad range of groups and no group registered against it.

“We have a responsibility to our seniors to make sure there is help when they have concerns about the health care they are receiving,” said Mathis. “We used to be ranked highly among states that advocated for our elderly. Now we are last on the list and because of shortsightedness from the Majority and our most vulnerable have no voice.”

Link to SF 2278