Nursing homes exhale as staffing bill tabled until fall

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A New Jersey bill that would have established a certified nursing assistant-to-resident ratio at nursing homes has been pushed to the fall for further debate. But operators in the state and beyond remain concerned about the precedent.

The bill, supported by front-line staff and unions, would have required an additional 2,500 openings in addition to 1,800 positions already unfilled. That would leave providers scrambling to fill 4,300 open slots. Current data has led to estimates that the bill would result in $95 million in additional expenses for the nursing home industry.

One suggestion has been to ease license reciprocity restrictions. The New Jersey Hospital Association says one solution could be to let nurses in neighboring states work in New Jersey. Another option could be to allow the bill to include other staffers taking care of a resident rather than focus only on nursing assistants, the NJHA said.

The bill passed the state Senate last week, with one sponsor noting how New Jersey has an “F” rating from Families for Better Care, a watchdog group run by former Florida ombudsman Brian Lee.