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SURVEY: One-Third of Nursing Homes Plan Direct-Service Staff Layoffs

April 12, 2012

Layoffs of certified nursing assistants are imminent in nursing homes across the country, according to a survey (pdf) published by the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, a nursing home industry association.

More than one-third (36.8 percent) of nursing home directors surveyed said they expect to lay off direct-service staff, such as registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, therapists and other staff, following a reduction in Medicare skilled nursing facility payment rates, which took effect in October 2011.

Approximately the same percentage of respondents (37 percent) said their facilities were indefinitely postponing or canceling the hiring of new direct-service staff.

Nearly three out of four nursing home directors (74.2 percent) plan to respond to the Medicare rate reduction by cutting or freezing wages throughout their facilities. Almost half (47.8 percent) plan to cut or restrict their workers’ benefits.

More than 230 nursing home directors participated in the survey, which was conducted shortly after the cuts took effect last October by Avalere Health.

Layoffs Tied to Rate Cut

Last July, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it would cut the Medicare payment rate for skilled nursing facilities by 11.1 percent.

Eldercare advocates immediately criticized the cut, arguing that facilities would have to shed tens of thousands of workers to compensate.

Judging by the survey results, it appears facilities are indeed planning to lay off staff. “In response to the CMS cut, facilities will lay off over 20,000 staff and cancel projects that would have created 20,000-25,000 new jobs,” the survey states.

Fewer Workers, Worse Care

Studies have consistently demonstrated a correlation between staffing levels in nursing homes and the quality of the care provided there.

“This report is disturbing,” said PHI Coaching & Consulting Services Director Susan Misiorski. “Quality nursing home care is dependent upon a well-trained staff of direct-care workers whose personal case load allows the time necessary to provide for physical and emotional needs.

“The layoffs threatened by last year’s Medicare rate cuts threaten to degrade quality of care throughout the country at a time when more people than ever need long-term care due to the increases in our aging population,” Misiorski continued.

— by Matthew Ozga

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