NEW YORK (AP) — The federal government will, for the first time, dictate staffing levels at nursing homes, the Biden administration said Friday, responding to systemic problems bared by mass COVID-19 deaths.
While such regulation has been sought for decades by allies of older adults and those with disabilities, the proposed threshold is far lower than many advocates had hoped. It also immediately drew ire from the nursing home industry, which said it amounted to a mandate that couldn’t be met.
With criticism expected, a promise made with fanfare in President Joe Biden’s 2022 State of the Union speech had its details revealed as many Americans turned away from the news for a holiday weekend.
“We are working to make sure no nursing home can sacrifice the safety of their residents just to add some dollars to their bottom line,” the president said in a USA Today opinion piece.
The American Health Care Association, which lobbies for care facilities, called the proposal “unfathomable,” saying it will worsen existing problems and cost homes billions of dollars.
“We hope to convince the administration to never finalize this rule as it is unfounded, unfunded, and unrealistic,” said AHCA’s president, Mark Parkinson, the former Democratic governor of Kansas.
The proposed rules, which now enter a public comment period and would take years more to fully take effect, call for staffing equivalent to 3 hours per resident per day, just over half an hour of it coming from registered nurses. The rules also call for facilities to have an RN on staff 24 hours a day, every day.
The average U.S. nursing home already has overall caregiver staffing of about 3.6 hours per resident per day, according to government reports, including RN staffing just above the half-hour mark.