ICYMI: Democrat Lawmaker Opposition Of Federal Staffing Mandate For Nursing Homes Is Growing

Advocacy; Workforce

In case you missed it, the federal staffing mandate for nursing homes proposed by the Biden Administration is facing mounting opposition from prominent Democratic voices, as highlighted in recent news coverage from The Hill and Axios.
Much of the opposition comes from lawmakers representing rural and underserved communities, as seniors in these regions particularly face devastating consequences when the vast majority of nursing homes are unable to comply with this impossible, unfunded mandate. Many lawmakers who are standing up against the proposed mandate are also set to be in competitive races next year, increasing the pressure on the Biden Administration to find a more effective solution that will garner the support of Democrats and the majority of Republicans who are adamantly opposed to the mandate in its current form.
Read more from the recent articles on the growing support from Democratic lawmakers, underscoring how the proposed federal staffing mandate for nursing homes isn’t partisan but simply bad policy:
“The Biden administration is walking a political tightrope with its plan to impose minimum staffing levels on nursing homes. The White House is facing criticism from the left and the right, and the proposal is dividing Democrats, especially some front-line members facing a difficult reelection in 2024. Those lawmakers, mostly from rural areas, argue that the proposal is too strict and would force nursing homes to close.” 
“Some Democratic lawmakers in competitive races next year are urging the administration not to move forward with a plan that they argue could force widespread closures. But scrapping or watering down the policy could anger progressives, who say it already doesn’t go far enough, and spark pushback from unions as Biden courts their support for his own re-election campaign.”
Several notable Democrats from across the country have also weighed in on the potential negative implications of the staffing mandate. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), along with Senator James Lankford (R-OK), took the lead on a bipartisan Senate letter to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) encouraging them to rethink the mandate. A similar bipartisan letter signed by 91 members of the House was led by Congressmen Jared Golden (D-ME-2) and Chris Pappas (D-NH-1), along with Republican colleagues.
Additionally, Democratic Governor of Kansas Laura Kelly wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to express her opposition to the mandate. More recently, Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI-4) wrote to CMS with concerns about the adverse consequences on residents and families in underserved communities, especially given the rule’s challenging exemption process. She writes:
"My district is a dense urban area that has multiple [long term care] facilities. I am concerned that this proposal may make it harder for facilities in areas like my district that try in good faith to [qualify] for this exemption. And without the ability to get that exemption, it may lead to a facility closure that for many families in my district, would be an extreme hardship to try to locate a new facility that meets the needs of their family member.
“…Meeting additional minimum staffing needs requires more resources and, on this point, CMS has not announced additional resources it may make available in this regard, even if just for the transition period. I appreciate that CMS announced $75 million in financial incentives such as scholarships and tuition reimbursement for individuals to enter careers in nursing homes. But, I urge CMS to evaluate whether additional reimbursement amounts are warranted, too, particularly facilities catering to underserved communities.”
This is not a partisan issue. The long term care industry needs tailored, supportive solutions in order to grow its workforce rather than a blanket, unfunded mandate that will put access to care at risk for nearly 300,000 nursing home residents. The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and other long term care facilities across the country, has laid out a comprehensive reform package in the Care for Our Seniors Act, which includes common-sense investments and policy solutions to help nursing homes improve care and build a strong pipeline of caregivers.
See what other members of Congress, policy experts and long term care advocates nationwide are saying in opposition of the mandate HERE.​