More than half of the nursing homes in North Carolina and throughout the country limited patient admissions in 2022 because of staff shortages, and those shortages could get more acute if minimum staffing levels proposed by the Biden administration are implemented. The proposals call for nursing homes to provide residents with minimum levels of care and have a registered nurse on duty at all times.
Negligence and neglect
The Biden administration is proposing the rules to improve patient care and prevent nursing home negligence and abuse. However, they fall short of the standards that experts say are necessary to provide adequate care. In 2001, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services determined that at least four hours of care each day was required to protect nursing home residents from harm. The Biden administration’s proposed rules would only require nursing homes to provide three hours of care each day. According to the White House, more than a third of the nation’s nursing homes would have to hire RNs to meet the proposed standards.
Opposition from trade groups
The Biden administration’s proposed nursing home staffing requirements are supported by nonprofit organizations like the Long-Term Care Community Coalition and the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, but they are opposed by trade groups including the American Health Care Association. The AHCA has called the proposed standards “unfathomable” and says meeting them would be financially “crippling.”
Trade organizations usually oppose regulations that would increase costs and eat into profits, and advocacy groups usually support them. These proposed rules would improve the standard of care in American nursing homes, but they do not meet the minimum levels experts say are necessary to prevent harm. If the nation’s nursing homes are turning away patients because they do not have enough qualified staff to care for them, an initiative that encourages people to pursue a career in nursing may be called for.