Federal court upholds feeding assistant regs

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Medicaid rules allowing paid feeding assistants to help certain residents do not violate a law designed to improve care in nursing homes, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The feeding assistant regulations established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services meet OBRA '87 requirements, according to a ruling handed down Friday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The justices ruled that such use of feeding aides would free nursing aides to spend more time on specialized tasks requiring higher-acuity care.

Two consumer groups opposed the rule, claiming it gave feeding aides more responsibility than they might be able to handle. Nurse aides, who receive more training than feeding aides, previously performed the duties. The Resident Councils of Washington and the Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program filed the suit against the Department of Health and Human Services.
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