Lawmakers want minimum staffing requirements in nursing homes
In recent years, limited nursing home staffing has become a growing safety concern for residents. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), incidents of nursing home abuse and neglect have more than doubled from 2013 to 2017. Flaws in staffing — including inadequate staffing, poor training, and poor screening — were identified as the leading risk factors.
Under federal law, nursing homes certified by Medicare and Medicaid are required to have a registered nurse (RN) on duty seven days a week for eight hours each day. In addition, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) must be one duty 24 hours per day. While certified nursing aides (CNAs) provide the majority of daily care to nursing home residents, there are no minimum staffing requirements in place. That could soon change, according to McKnight's Long-Term Care News.
Remedial legislation may address staffing concerns
In November 2019, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced The Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents Act (S.2943) to the Senate. The purpose of the bill is to make revisions to the minimum staffing requirements in nursing homes by amending titles XVIII and XIX of the Social Security Act. Likewise, Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced H.R. 5216 to the House.
“I consistently read horror stories from around the country of nursing homes that could have done better to protect their residents. I am introducing the Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents Act of 2019 to make sure that our nursing homes provide a level of care our seniors deserve,” said Rep. Schakowsky in a press release.
A rebuttal for quality over quantity
Some nursing home providers have challenged The Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents Act. They cite limited funding as a stumbling block to meeting staffing demands. Mark Parkinson is the president and CEO of the American Health Care Association. He said the minimum staffing requirements imposed in the legislation could lead to facility closures.
"Today, our profession suffers from a critical workforce shortage and setting minimum staffing levels will not solve that issue. We need solutions like loan forgiveness that will help attract more workers to the long-term care profession,” said Parkinson.
Katie Smith Sloan is the president and CEO of LeadingAge. She said nursing home facilities already face staffing challenges that The Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents Act doesn't address.
“There are simply more jobs open than can be filled across the U.S. In the words of one of our members: ‘We don’t even have people to interview, much less hire,'" said Smith Sloan.
To address these challenges, Parkinson and Smith Sloan have urged lawmakers to support the Nursing Home Workforce Quality Act (H.R. 4468), which would reinstate CNA training programs at facilities that have previously been penalized for violations.
Contact a Mobile, AL lawyer
The nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Braswell Murphy LLC agree that addressing limited and unqualified staffing concerns may reduce the number of incidents we hear about each day. We'll likely continue to hear about the horrors that our elders face. At least until lawmakers and facilities can find ways to balance staffing quality with quantity.
That's why our legal team is dedicated to advocating for victims of nursing home abuse and neglect, and their families. In greater Mobile, Alabama, we have built a reputation for launching prompt investigations. We take on negligent facilities, and get results in the courtroom. To find out how we can help you and your family, contact us online and schedule your free case evaluation.