Florida's senior U.S. Senator, Bill Nelson, filed legislation Tuesday to create a national advisory committee to look for ways to better prepare and care for the nation's seniors during a disaster such as Hurricane Irma.
Nelson's measure is a response to the deaths of eight seniors in a nursing home in Hollywood.
The residents died after their nursing home lost power and its capacity for air-conditioning.Nelson said his measure would 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."
The bipartisan bill - cosponsored by Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Maine U.S. Senator Susan Collins, and Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Bob Casey - would require the secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a National Advisory Committee on Seniors and Disasters.
The 15-member panel would be appointed by the secretary of HHS and made up of federal and local agency officials, as well as non-federal health care professionals with expertise in disaster response.
Once established, the panel would be charged with providing guidance to local, state and federal officials on how to better prepare seniors for an emergency, how to better evaluate their health needs during an emergency and what activities should be carried out when an emergency is declared.
The legislation now heads to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions for consideration.