The leader of the nation’s second-largest nursing home advocacy group on Thursday asked the White House to convene a roundtable on improving job quality and expanding the worker pool in conjunction with any eventual minimum staffing proposal.

LeadingAge CEO and President Katie Smith Sloan, in a letter addressed to President Joe Biden, asked the administration to prove that nursing homes are not expected to “shoulder the entire burden of a problem that is faced across the nation’s economy: not enough workers to fill positions in retail, hospitality, food service, and healthcare.”

“Holding nursing homes to a standard that is impossible to meet because there are not enough workers in the country, then fining them for not meeting that standard, is going to force quality of care down — not improve it,” wrote Sloan (pictured), who noted that extensive hiring challenges across the healthcare system are creating bottlenecks and limiting access to care.

She requested a meeting to discuss such issues with the president and added that the administration should demonstrate its interest in addressing the need for long-term workforce solutions.

“Concurrent with releasing the staffing rule, please convene a roundtable of long-term care experts, providers, consumer representatives, labor economists, and demographers to identify targeted steps the administration can take to improve job quality and expand the pool of applicants for positions in nursing homes,” Sloan wrote.

The letter comes as the staffing proposal, first pitched back in February 2022, remains under consideration at the White House Office of Management and Budget. It has been in limbo since May 30, with nursing homes owners, consumer advocates and union leaders scheduling meetings to inform the administration about their concerns. LeadingAge representatives, including Sloan, have met with OMB, as well as officials from Health and Human Services, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and other agencies involved in the staffing mandate’s development.

Sloan’s letter represents the unwillingness of LeadingAge members “to simply wait” for an outcome, a spokeswoman told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News Thursday.

The organization has rallied its members to press federal leaders on the staffing minimum issue, and LeadingAge also previously proposed a Get Real on Ratios agenda that calls on leaders to ensure core economic and workforce elements are in place before a punitive mandate is implemented.

Thursday’s request was the latest in a series of advocacy initiatives, and leaders noted that urgency was rising with the mandate “expected soon.”

“We’ve been pounding the table about the many challenges that providers are navigating, with workforce being a top concern for more than a year now,” the LeadingAge spokeswoman said. “We need to be heard on this; quality of care and staffing work hand-in-hand.”

In her letter, Sloan added that Biden was “uniquely positioned” to convene a roundtable that could explore a “collaborative and coordinated strategy to solve the nursing home staffing crisis.”