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It’s Time to Move Forward, Not Back, with Nursing Home Standards

May 20, 2024

The House of Representatives has taken recent actions that threaten to undermine historic progress toward boosting nursing home staffing, safety, and quality across the country.

A recently filed Congressional Review Act (CRA) is intended to overturn the Biden Administration’s new nursing home minimum staffing standard rule. The new staffing rule, which represents the most significant nursing home regulatory reform in decades, recognizes the essential role of the direct care workforce by requiring nursing home providers to meet certain staffing levels. The CRA and other efforts to weaken or overturn the rule fail to acknowledge the critical links among job quality, workforce recruitment and retention, and care quality.

As another example, a House subcommittee held a hearing earlier in May on bills that, if passed, would lower training standards for nursing home workers, impacting the quality of care for nursing home residents. Given the rising complex needs of nursing home residents, direct care workers deserve a training infrastructure that adequately prepares them for the demands of their jobs and residents deserve care provided by a well-trained workforce.

As PHI regularly documents, our country faces a growing direct care workforce crisis and widescale, transformative action is needed. However, the answer to recruiting and retaining an adequate nursing home workforce is not reducing staffing or training requirements. Instead, the answer lies in improving job quality for all direct care workers, including the nursing assistants who provide the majority of hands-on care to nursing home residents. This means prioritizing direct care workers in federal policy by rethinking how we finance our long-term care system, improving worker compensation and training, funding workforce interventions, and expanding data collection. It means supporting legislation like the Long-Term Care Workforce Support Act, designed to systematically and comprehensively improve direct care job quality and address the workforce crisis in long-term care.

And resolving the workforce crisis also means holding the line on existing and new staffing and workforce standards in long-term care—to move forward instead of back.

Contributing Authors

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