BOSTON - As the clock ticked down on formal sessions this week, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a long-term care bill designed to protect the most vulnerable living in long-term care facilities, as well as adding to the dwindling workforce.

What You Need To Know

  • The Massachusetts House was able to come together and pass a long-term care bill when things were tense because of other matters

  • The bill is focused on guidelines for long-term care facilities

  • It passed the House unanimously and will move onto the state Senate in the new year.

At a time when there was disagreement over other matters, this bill had bipartisan support.

“I think the speaker [made] very good decision making this a priority, and it was something that we could all agree on," said state Rep. Mike Soter, R-Worcester. "Republicans and Democrats coming together to pass this bill."

The bill looks back on the gaps in care exposed during the pandemic and implements baseline rules statewide in any nursing home and cash penalties for any violations.

There is also funding for adding to the workforce and clarity on regulations so there is enough staffing for safe care.

“I think the other challenge is that they say that these are going after those who are under preforming or aren’t being fully transparent with their ownership," said Matt Salmon, CEO of Salmon Health and Retirement. "But when you set standards and regulations, it impacts all of us."

Salmon is a third-generation owner of long-term care facilities. He said one bill won’t change everything in need of funding, but it will help.

“The COVID-19 pandemic that started in 2020 exposed some real challenges as a result of the underfunding in the long-term care sector," Salmon said. "And I think this bill, and our state Legislature, are doing a great job of trying to address the challenges that were exposed. And that’s not just the ownership and the workforce - it’s the chronic underfunding."

The bill was passed unanimously through the House and now will head to the state Senate. It won't be picked up again until after the new year.