Nursing home inspector holding a clipboard
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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is on a “full court sprint” toward issuing new guidance and regulations to go with President Biden’s plans for nursing home reform, officials said Thursday. 

“This plan in its entirety really represents a holistic approach to improving conditions in nursing homes for both residents and staff,” Jean Moody-Williams, deputy director of CMS’s Center of Clinical Standards and Quality, said while speaking during a nursing home stakeholder call. 

“These are complex issues, which is why we’re taking a comprehensive and thoughtful approach,” she added. 

Staff explained Biden’s reform package, which includes more than 20 actions to improve quality of care, are a mix of short-, mid- and long-term projects. Initiatives that CMS are exploring for short-term implementation include: overhauling the Special Focus Facility Program, increasing accountability and transparency on nursing home owners, improving the use and availability of data on the Care Compare site. 

Guidance on the minimum staffing requirement — a top priority for Biden — will come after a year-long “rigorous study” to help inform CMS staff the standards to set for facilities. Agency officials added that it will take into account ongoing workforce issues within the sector. 

“There is no doubt that we must adopt a careful, considerate approach to implementing this initiative,” she said. “It really is a way to find a meaningful balance and avoid unintended consequences.” 

CMS said providers can expect a proposal minimum staffing standards within one year and the other initiatives will have their own timeframe, 

“We are on a full court sprint towards new regulations, new safety guidance, new systems and those will be developed [and] built with folks here on the phone today, and those around the country, to help us get to the best policies going forward,” said Jonathan Blum, CMS’ chief operating officer and principal deputy administrator.