Capitol Correspondence - 08.08.23

Biden Administration Set to Unveil Nursing Home Staffing Requirements

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Patient advocates and industry leaders are gearing up for a potential clash as the Biden administration prepares to unveil a new staffing requirement for nursing homes. Although the specifics of the regulation have yet to be officially released, leaks about its potential impact have raised concerns among both parties, with each holding different worries about its implications.

Industry leaders are expressing apprehension about the rule’s requirements, fearing that they may prove too costly to implement, especially in the context of existing workforce shortages. They argue that this could potentially lead to the closure of some facilities. On the other side of the debate, advocates for patients are concerned that the rule may not mandate enough caregivers per resident, raising concerns about subpar treatment and compromised patient safety and health.

The Biden administration’s commitment to reforming the long-term care industry has been evident for some time, and the staffing policy is regarded by industry and patient advocates alike as one of the most critical aspects of the plan. However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has chosen to remain tight-lipped about the forthcoming regulation, withholding any official comments at this stage.

The crux of the anticipated impact of the Biden administration’s policy revolves around the required staffing hours per resident per day. Although the exact details have not been unveiled, insiders speculate that the standard may fall within the range of 3.8 to 4.6 hours per resident day. If the lowest estimate becomes the final rule, nearly half of all facilities would need to hire additional staff to meet the requirement, as per data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Industry groups have suggested alternative approaches to enhancing patient care, such as adjusting CMS’ existing quality control programs, incorporating customer satisfaction ratings into public reports, and bolstering the long-term care workforce. However, patient advocates maintain that the focus should be on the care standards themselves and question the credibility of claims that the rule would impact the industry.