A bipartisan group of 13 US senators is encouraging the Biden administration to halt its push to mandate staffing levels in nursing homes. These senators with rural populations say it’s the wrong move, since nursing homes are already struggling to hire and retain professional staff.
In a letter to CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, the senators say they “fear a one-size-fits-all staffing mandate would undermine access to care for patients, particularly in rural communities.” The senators represent Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming further note that “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.”
Minimum staffing requirements are part of a broader Biden administration effort to drive quality improvements and increase transparency in the nursing home sector. A federal proposal is anticipated this spring, amid similar efforts by several states to mandate minimum staffing levels.
Both the American Health Care Association and LeadingAge have gone on record stating their organizations cannot support staffing mandates without financial backing and recognition of the sector’s current workforce challenges.