President Joe Biden recently utilized his State of the Union address to begin a major improvement in the quality of nursing homes in the country. This improvement addresses an increase in minimum staffing levels as well as efforts taken to improve inspections while all-the-while following the Covid-19 safety protocol.
Biden administration officials have outlined over a dozen separate actions with many pursued by advocates while opposed by the industry. One major missing element is new channels of federal financing to compensate for improvements.
New Changes in the Nursing Home Industry
One health policy expert has commented that these approaching changes are a very positive sign. The expert also commented that if one asked the industry, they’d respond that these changes would put them out of business but that advocates would comment the system has adequate resources. In actuality, the expert concluded, the truth is probably between these two things.
Nursing home residents represent a disproportionate number of deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic and the Biden administration has been working to create both community and home-based care as an option. The Biden administration is also conscious of a growing trend in the nursing facility industry toward profit-driven and investor-managed facilities.
The Biden Administration’s New Requirement
The basis of President Biden’s nursing home plan is a new requirement for minimum staff levels at nursing facilities. President Biden has also requested that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services perform an evaluation of staffing levels and published suggested regulations within 2022.
Experts state that staff levels represent the most important guideline for the quality of nursing homes and many facilities lack sufficient staff numbers. The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a large number of workers abandoning the industry, despite wage increases. Consequently, a new regulation among nursing homes would take time to implement.
Congressional Debate About Nursing Home Improvements
Congressional legislatures have debated regulations that would require minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes to accept payment from both Medicaid and Medicare.
President Biden is also focused on shifting the nursing facility industry towards more private resident rooms and is guiding federal lawmakers to consider how to discontinue living arrangements where several residents must share the same room.
Despite the substantial amount of tax dollars directed towards nursing facilities each year, too many entities still provide poor and less than satisfactory care that results in resident harm that can be avoided.
Additional oversight without sufficient assistance will not have the end effect of improving resident care, unfortunately.
Improved Oversight of Nursing Homes
Improved oversight of nursing homes is another focus for the Biden administration in improving nursing homes. President Biden has called for increasing the elderly facility budget by approximately $500 million. Nursing home inspections are often carried out by states that follow Medicare guidelines. President Biden’s plan in revamping a special inspection program focuses on low-performing facilities to increase fines on nursing homes that fail to improve and cut off payments to Medicare and Medicaid.