Senators ask CMS to drop nursing home staffing mandates

A letter signed by a bipartisan group of 13 senators is asking CMS to halt its plan for staffing mandates, citing fears it will harm already struggling nursing homes.

"We fear a one-size-fits-all staffing mandate would undermine access to care for patients, particularly in rural communities," according to the Jan. 20 letter sent to CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. "Additionally, blanket staffing standards may not provide enough flexibility to nursing homes in light of well-known and long-standing obstacles to the recruitment and retention of direct care workers, especially in rural and underserved areas."

The American Health Care Association found 96 percent of nursing homes are struggling with staff shortages. An analysis conducted by American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, meanwhile, found that nursing homes have the worst rate of job loss of any healthcare sector.

"We are in a full-blown crisis and a staffing mandate will not help produce the staff we need and desire," Shelly Peterson, president of the North Dakota Long Term Care Association, told McKnights Long-Term Care News. "We need meaningful legislation to help facilities, nurse scholarships, loan repayments, more funding to increase wages and attract workers.  Immigration reform so we have access to an expanded workforce."

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