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Reject Bill That Would Block Federal Nursing Home Standards, AARP Tells Congress

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En español | Having enough nurses and nurse’s aides on staff is crucial to providing safe and high-quality care in nursing homes, research shows. That’s why AARP is fighting to ensure that a proposal to set minimum staffing levels for the country’s nursing homes moves forward.

We wrote to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee this week urging members to reject legislation that would block the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) from finalizing proposed minimum staffing rules unveiled by the Biden administration last September.

“Safe care is not possible without an adequate number of qualified nursing staff,” wrote Bill Sweeney, AARP senior vice president for government affairs.

He said AARP has heard from thousands of members whose loved ones have suffered because of poor staffing in nursing homes. More than 185,000 residents died in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, casting a spotlight on inadequate staffing and other long-standing problems.

“The devastation. . .that too many have faced is unconscionable,” Sweeney wrote.

The new standards would apply to most of the nation’s 15,000 nursing homes. They call for facilities funded through Medicare or Medicaid to provide every resident with at least 0.55 hours of care from a registered nurse plus 2.45 hours of care from a nurse’s aide each day. Facilities would also need to have a registered nurse on site around the clock and be required to allocate more hours of care to residents with higher staffing needs.

Legislation to block the standards follows pushback from the nursing home industry, which has raised concerns about staffing shortages.

“We appreciate that it will be a transition for some nursing home operators to plan and prepare for a federal staffing standard,” Sweeney wrote. “However, instead of barring [CMS] from its responsibility to ensure taxpayer dollars are appropriately spent, Congress should work with stakeholders to bolster the workforce, which is much in demand.”

Read our letter, and keep up with AARP’s nursing home coverage.

Natalie Missakian covers federal and state policy and writes AARP’s Fighting for You Every Day blog. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Haven Register and daily newspapers in Ohio. She has also written for the AARP Bulletin, the Hartford Business Journal and other publications.

Also of Interest:

New Federal Report Highlights Pandemic Lessons for Nursing Homes
How to Communicate With Frontline Staff at Your Loved One’s Long-Term Care Facility
AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard

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