Nebraska Health Care Association responds to new federal nursing home mandates

April 24, 2024, 6 a.m. ·

A nursing facility's hallway leading to an exit with a door at the end.
(Archive photo by Pamela Thompson, Nebraska Public Media News)

On Monday the Biden administration announced a new staffing mandate for nursing homes in the United States. The Nebraska Health Care Association is pushing back on the new mandates. President and CEO of the NHCA, Jalene Carpenter said the new mandate would make issues in Nebraska nursing homes worse.

“We have a health care workforce crisis right now. And if this mandate would go into effect, it would exacerbate it to the point where many, many rural facilities would close,” Carpenter said.

The specific mandates include:

  • Nursing homes should have at least one registered nurse working 24/7.
  • Each patient should be guaranteed 33 minutes of a nurse’s time each day.
  • Each resident should have 2.5 hours of certified nursing assistant care every day.
  • There should be at least one certified nursing assistant for every 10 residents.

This applies to all nursing homes funded by Medicaid and Medicare. According to Carpenter, most Nebraska nursing homes accept Medicare and Medicaid. Only a handful do not.

Carpenter called the new mandate ‘unnecessary and unfunded.’

“I think it's important to just acknowledge the fact that facilities have a staffing requirement right now. We have a high quality of care and our nursing facilities across the state,’ Carpenter said.

Nebraska U.S Senator Deb Fischer has introduced legislation prohibiting the U.S Department of Health and Human Services from finalizing the proposed mandates. The Protecting Rural Seniors Access to Care Act has been endorsed by over 90 organizations across the U.S., including the NHCA. The legislation would also establish an advisory panel on nursing home staffing to identify real solutions that won’t harm senior’s access. This is according to a press release from Sen. Fischer’s official site.

According to Carpenter, Gov. Jim Pillen has also shown his support in this legislation.

Carpenter said the cost of new staff would still be a huge increase in costs for Medicaid residents, even with the newly passed legislation giving Nebraska hospitals Medicaid money. While she doesn’t know why the Biden Administration put out the mandate, she knows there is a need for quality in nursing homes.

“I believe in Nebraska that a one size fits up fits all approach to staffing is not a good path to quality, that individualized care for facilities is able to staff to meet their resident need, which is how it is today is a better path forward,” she said.