In campaign advertisements across many Iowa legislative districts, Democrats are attacking Republicans’ vote to shield nursing homes from liability lawsuits over COVID-19 safety negligence.
Nursing home protections became a hot-button topic at the end of the 2020 legislative session when House Republicans voted to shield nursing homes and meatpacking plants—Iowa businesses hit hardest by the pandemic—from COVID-19 liability lawsuits.
“Bergan supported waiving legal responsibility for out-of-state nursing homeowners who fail to keep seniors and employees safe from Coronavirus,” said a mailer sent out in Northwest Iowa by the Iowa Democratic Party, citing his vote on the bill.
“Michael Bergan. Left nursing homes and Iowa seniors on their own during the pandemic….in the middle of the COVID pandemic—Michael Bergan left our seniors and nursing home residents without protection. Now, Bergan is lying about his record,” it reads.
Bergan was one of the House Republicans who in June passed a bill that would give Iowa’s large employers like nursing homes “immunity” in most cases from claiming responsibility for their employees sick with coronavirus.
He’s up against Democrat Kayla Koether for their second race for the seat on Nov. 3. as the virus continues to hit Iowa nursing homes hard.
A recently released AARP Public Policy Institute dashboard indicates that from COVID-19’s arrival in Iowa, 643 nursing home residents as of late September had died as a result the virus — or 51 percent of Iowa’s total coronavirus deaths.
According to the state’s coronavirus tracker, there are currently 81 COVID-19 outbreaks at Iowa nursing homes. The website said 2,186 nursing home residents are positive for the virus. The Des Moines Register reports that there have now been 839 nursing home resident deaths.
The Iowa Democratic Party also put out TV advertisements highlighting Ingels, who is campaigning against Jodi Grover for Democratic Rep. Bruce Bearinger’s open district, which encompasses most of Buchanan and Fayette counties.
Though not yet in the legislature, the TV ad targeted the votes of his fellow Republicans.
“Chad Ingels’ health care agenda for Iowa families is flat out dangerous. We know Chad Ingels’ political funders voted to cut nursing home inspections,” said an ad paid for by the IDP, citing the recent COVID-19 liability bill.
Though a farmer, Ingels also owns a stake in a nursing home, another ad notes.
“Chad Ingels is running for state legislature, but his dangerous record puts seniors at risk,” said the advertisement, citing the candidate’s personal financial disclosure from March.
Pointing to the Department of Inspections Nursing Home Reports from 2017-19, the IDP also said that his facility also failed to provide adequate supervision for seniors.
“Chad Ingels owns a troubled nursing home… [it]has been cited for 22 violations in four years, including for neglect, bedsores. Ingels’ money … even let a dementia patient wander out by herself on a freezing night.”
by Isabella Murray
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