As Details of White House Nursing Home Proposal Emerge, More Questions Arise

This week President Biden announced a wide-ranging nursing home reform initiative to be implemented by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The announcement was timed to coincide with the State of the Union Address, but President Biden made only a very brief reference to one small part of his reform package in his speech Tuesday evening. After analyzing the proposal, we have more questions than answers, and the timeline for change is unclear.

According to a White House Fact Sheet, CMS, the US Department of Health & Human Services, and other units of federal government will implement twenty-one separate action items. Some of these will be new initiatives, such as the staffing standards. Still, many others reflect expansions, updates, or changes of emphasis within nursing home programs and activities that CMS is already conducting. Additionally, some elements will require Congressional authorization before CMS can proceed.

While the Fact Sheet describes these actions as urgent, it does not identify a timetable or prioritization for implementation, with one exception: CMS intends to issue a proposed rule to establish minimum staffing levels within one year.

We are working with our national partner at LeadingAge to get as many details as quickly as possible. We pledge that we will seek your input and provide advocacy resources every step of the way as we learn more about the timeline and the specifics of what CMS intends to pursue.

However well-intentioned the president's proposal for reform in long-term care may be, it does little to address the root of the caregiving crisis. Layering on regulations while ignoring funding for caregiver wages and the pipeline we need to care for a growing number of seniors will reduce access to safe, quality care.

We understand the gravity of the Biden administration's proposed regulations, and we are dedicated to advocacy on your behalf. We won't stand down.

Here's how we are asking you to engage on this critical issue:

  1. Join us for the Huddle on Friday, March 4, at 11 a.m. to learn more and share your concerns. We'll dedicate 100% of our time to better understanding the impact of this proposal to help shape our strategy moving forward.
  2. Review our analysis of what the proposal entails based on the limited information we have received so far.
  3. Use our messaging to help you respond to lawmakers or media inquiries.

The president’s proposal cloaked in quality does little to ensure safe care. Instead, it mandates staffing requirements that will do nothing to help us fill the 25,000 open positions throughout Minnesota’s long-term care sector.

Government plays a vital role in solving our workforce crisis, but one thing is clear: more regulations won't help us attract the skilled, compassionate workforce we need to care for the growing number of seniors. We need partnerships and a commitment to fund meaningful, permanent wage increases and a genuine commitment to grow the pipeline of caregivers – not just red tape and more punitive processes.

We look forward to standing up with you, sharing your story, and highlighting the vital work you do every day to enrich the quality of life for Minnesota's seniors, enhance their well-being, and keep them safe and free from harm.

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