White House finalizes minimum staffing rule for nursing homes

The first minimum staffing rule for nursing homes has been finalized, according to an April 22 White House fact sheet.

The mandate requires all nursing homes that receive Medicare and Medicaid to provide a total of at least 3.48 hours of nursing care per resident per day, including a defined number for registered nurses (0.55 hours per resident per day) and nurse aides (2.45 per resident per day).

The rule will also require a registered nurse on site at all times. 

The mandate will be phased in with rural communities having longer time frames and temporary exemptions available for facilities in areas with workforce shortages that demonstrate a good faith effort to hire.

"This rule will not only benefit residents and their families, it will also ensure that workers aren't stretched too thin by having inadequate staff on site, which is currently a common reason for worker burnout and turnover," the fact sheet said. "Workers who are on the front lines interacting with residents and understanding their needs will also be given a voice in developing staffing plans for nursing homes."

The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living spoke out against the final rule, calling it "an unreasonable standard" that could shut down more nursing homes.

"We are extremely disappointed and troubled that the Biden administration is resolved to issue this unfunded staffing mandate despite overwhelming concerns from experts, stakeholders and policymakers on both sides of the aisle," AHCA President and CEO Mark Parkinson said in an April 22 news release. "Now the administration has gone ever farther than originally proposed, making these requirements even more out of touch and out of reach. At the end of the day, the agency is overstepping with a one-size-fits-all enforcement approach that is deeply flawed."

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