Providers are pushing back against a proposed law that would require skilled nursing facilities to meet minimum staffing requirements. They’re instead calling on lawmakers to find solutions to address the workforce crisis throughout the industry.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) on Thursday introduced The Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents Act (S.2943), which would revise minimum staffing requirements for skilled nursing facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) also introduced the proposal (H.R. 5216) in the House. That legislation has since been referred to the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees.
Without additional funding, the legislation would make it “impossible for facilities to implement new mandates” without risking additional closures, Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association, said in a statement.
“The skilled nursing profession has serious concerns about the practical implementation of the proposals in this bill. Today, our profession suffers from a critical workforce shortage and setting minimum staffing levels will not solve that issue. We need solutions like loan forgiveness that will help attract more workers to the long term care profession,” Parkinson said.
He said that while the organization appreciates the interest in quality of care, more discussions are needed about “real solutions like the proposals that will allow reinstatement of CNA training programs.”
“These types of bipartisan solutions can help make meaningful progress and ensure access to care for seniors and individuals with disabilities across the country,” he said.
LeadingAge CEO and President Katie Smith Sloan said though the proposed bill is “laudable,” it doesn’t address the true issue facing providers.
“There are simply more jobs open than can be filled across the U.S. In the words of one of our members: ‘We don’t even have people to interview, much less hire. Last year , we had 9,000 RN, LPN, and CNA jobs in our state and only 2,500 applicants,’” she said.
Smith Sloan added that the bill does not address the reason for the staffing shortages, which include demographics (America’s aging population) and money. She also urged lawmakers to support the Nursing Home Workforce Quality Act (H.R. 4468), which she said would “provide an opportunity to build a crucial talent pipeline.
“Without mechanisms that address two significant issues, the availability of people to provide the care as well as the growing challenges of financing (Medicaid, which is the primary public source of funding for the majority of nursing homes, is inadequately funded, so providers are not reimbursed for the costs of care), this effort has small chances of achieving its desired end,” she said.
The proposed legislation was commended by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care.