President Joe Biden speaks during the State of the Union
Credit: Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images

The nation’s largest nursing home association has requested a sit-down with President Joe Biden in a push to clear up “some of the inaccuracies” cited by the president in his nursing home reform plan. 

The American Health Care Association made the request in a letter dated Tuesday. It called for a meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure in addition to Biden. AHCA argued that it’s crucial the leaders hear directly from the industry on their quality efforts for the future and workforce challenges. 

“We have lost hundreds of thousands of workers since the beginning of the pandemic, and it is not clear that we can get them back, let alone add minimum staffing standards, without significant support from federal policymakers,” wrote Mark Parkinson, AHCA’s president and CEO. 

It was also not immediately clear if the association has previously asked for similar meetings with a sitting president, nor if any of those requests were successful. A request from McKnight’s Long-Term Care News was not returned by production deadline. 

The association specifically wants to address two key points: the skilled nursing sector’s progress in quality improvement and the long-term care workforce crisis as it relates to the minimum staffing requirement proposed by the president. 

Parkinson said during a press conference last week that data over the last 10 years has shown that providers have made significant advances in quality. He pointed to the 20 quality measures used by the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services to grade providers, explaining that data shows the industry has improved in 16 of those 20 measures.

“We would love to partner with the Biden administration on renewing our quality improvement priorities and strategies coming out of the pandemic,” Parkinson wrote Tuesday. “What is concerning about the rhetoric surrounding last week’s announcement is that it demoralized an already beaten down sector.” 

He added that the group was “shocked” by statements regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, placing blame on nursing home caregivers and criticizing the care provided.

“Ultimately, long-term care was not prioritized by public health officials even though COVID uniquely targeted our residents, and the results were tragic,” Parkinson said. 

He added that increasing staffing minimums in the midst of the workforce crisis without corresponding resources would result in “nearly every nursing home being out of compliance. He also noted that the industry recognizes the need to hire more caregivers and offer more private rooms but it must also be recognized that the government funding to bring forth these improvements is not currently there.

“We look forward to working with you to improve nursing home care, but we need real support and meaningful solutions,” Parkinson concluded. 

The association did not set a deadline for a meeting or response from the administration.