In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Florida’s two U.S. senators--Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio--are calling for creating a new federal committee to tackle how to “better prepare and care for our nation’s seniors during a disaster.”
Pointing to the deaths of eight seniors in Hollywood nursing home during the hurricane earlier this month, Nelson and Rubio teamed up with U.S. Sens. Bob Casey, D-Penn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, on Tuesday to introduce a bill creating a national advisory committee on the matter.
The bill makes the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Department create a National Advisory Committee on Seniors and Disasters. Under the proposal, the HHS secretary would name 15 federal and other governmental officials and health-care professionals with experience in disaster response to the committee.
Nelson introduced the bill and weighed in on why he brought it out.
“What happened in Hollywood is inexcusable,” Nelson said on Tuesday. “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.”
Rubio, who is co-sponsoring the legislation, also made the case for why the committee was needed.
“Not only has the tragedy in Hollywood left wounds across the state of Florida, but it has exposed other examples of potential mismanagement at assisted living facilities in the state,” said Rubio. “This bill is a necessary step in preventing similar tragedies in the future and ensuring Florida’s seniors are taken care of during natural disasters.”
The bill was sent over to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on Tuesday. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. House.