Nursing home inspector holding a clipboard
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Contractors will be making 65 nursing home visits over the next three months in a bid to help establish first-ever federal minimum staffing levels.

Frequent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services contractor Abt Associates will stage visits at select facilities through October. The White House set a goal of having a new staffing mandate in place by March 2023.

Abt researchers will collect information from staff, residents and family members, officials said.

Facilities spread across all 10 CMS regions will take part in the site visits. They will represent a wide variety of what the industry has to offer, varying in size, ownership type, percentage of Medicaid patients served and more. Facilities with a variety of quality star ratings and in disadvantaged areas also will be surveyed.

“Nursing homes declining to participate in site visits will not be penalized and will be replaced in the study sample to ensure ample data can be collected from a representative sample of nursing homes across the country,” noted LeadingAge spokeswoman Jodi Eyigor in a blog post to members Wednesday.

Abt contractors started contacting nursing homes on the visit list this week. Their two-day site visits will take place in coordination with facility operators and will be done only when the administrator and nursing director are available.

The visitors will “make every effort” to steer clear of state surveyor visits, meal times and shift changes, officials noted.

While on-site, the CMS contractor will interview handfuls of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and certified nursing aides, from both day and evening shifts, at each facility. They also will meet with several residents and/or family members during the two days.

Federal regulators have said they expect to have their study completed well within the 12-month time frame set out in a White House memo in February.

They said they will take into account comments on a staffing mandate received in response to CMS’s fiscal 2023 Skilled Nursing Facility Prospective Payment System proposed rule.

Their study also will include an analysis of the relationship between staffing and quality, the potential costs of a minimum staffing requirement, and a literature review.

The American Health Care Association released a report  late last month stating that a minimum staffing mandate could cost $10 billion to implement.