CMS urged to reinstate training for nursing home aides

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Advocates are urging CMS to reinstate mandatory federal training requirements for nursing aides working directly with nursing home residents, citing safety concerns, Bloomberg Law reported Dec. 10. 

"We want CMS to rescind the waiver and require that nurse aides working in the facilities be fully trained and certified," Lori Smetanka, executive director of the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, told Bloomberg Law

To ensure sufficient staffing at the beginning of the pandemic, the Trump administration waived a mandate limiting temporary nursing aide employment to four months at Medicare- and Medicaid-certified facilities unless 75 hours of state-approved training was completed. 

In April, CMS updated the guidance for states to evaluate training programs to consider allowing some of the time worked during the pandemic to count toward the 75 hours of training. Bloomberg Law reported some states have done so, but required little additional training beyond an eight-hour online course.

A Nov. 12 alert from the agency urged state inspectors to monitor for staff lacking "appropriate competencies," but did not lift the waiver nor the four-month employment limit. Mr. Carlson said since state inspectors don't test for competency, they would only be able to issue a citation for inadequate training if a violation or injury had already been reported.

There are also concerns for the safety of nursing assistants. The Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute reported assistants are three times more likely to get injured than "typical" U.S. workers. Robert Espinoza, the vice president of policy at Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, told Bloomberg Law the group supports lifting the waiver and then restarting the four-month training limit.

The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, the nursing home industry’s largest trade group, supported CMS' decision in a statement saying that the waiver “should remain intact at least through the duration of the Public Health Emergency.”


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