The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services won’t immediately implement President Joe Biden’s nursing home reform initiatives using interim final rules, according to the agency’s top leader.

Following Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said the agency isn’t considering using fast-track interim final rules to enact a minimum staffing proposal. Instead, she said CMS will solicit feedback from the industry. 

“When we do interim final rules, those tend to be things that are absolute emergencies or tight timelines,” Brooks-LaSure told national media outlets. Her comments were first reported by Kaiser Health News. The agency did use the interim final rule for the COVID-19 worker vaccine mandate. 

“While we want to move swiftly, we want to get comments from stakeholders,” she added. 

Biden’s extensive nursing home reform initiative, which includes more than 20 actions to improve quality, specifically directs CMS to establish a minimum staffing requirement for providers. It also directs the agency to conduct a new study to determine the level and type of staffing needed to ensure safe and quality care and will issue proposed rules within one year.

Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association, on Wednesday said he believes the minimum staffing requirement should be a Congressional decision, but it’s not entirely clear if the White House will consult with Congress before pursuing it.

“We’re hearing from staff over and over about the strain that staffing is placing on them personally and on residents and we have got to address the quality of care for people who are enrolled in our programs,” Brooks-LaSure said. 

“We want to work with industry, absolutely, to get there, but everything we hear is about what kind of strain the insufficient staffing is putting on residents and on the workers themselves,” she added.