Nursing facility leader concerned about proposed federal regulations

This year, the Biden Administration has been calling for major reforms in nursing homes to make sure each resident receives the best care possible.
Nursing Home

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WTVQ)- There are growing concerns after proposed federal mandates for nursing home facilities. Health leaders in Kentucky say the mandates could cause challenges for their centers, with a shortage of nurses and aides.

This year, the Biden Administration has been calling for major reforms in nursing homes to make sure each resident receives the best care possible. Those proposed changes include establishing a minimum nursing home staffing requirement and increasing accountability.

But one Kentucky leader says it’s going to be difficult to comply.

“Where are the people,” asked Betsy Johnson with the Kentucky Association of Healthcare Facilities wants answered.

Johnson is one of several nursing facility leaders who met with state lawmakers this week to voice concerns about proposed changes to federal nursing staff rules.

“In skilled nursing facilities alone, we are down about 4,500 jobs. So these people have left and we don’t expect them to be coming back for another four years,” said Johnson.

Johnson says it would cost nursing facilities $10 billion to meet the minimum staffing requirement if it goes into effect. While she doesn’t have numbers in Kentucky, she says nurses and other healthcare workers are leaving the industry- due to burnout and better paying jobs. She says if the federal rules are implemented, it’s going to be hard for her facilities to comply.

“We are not operating in a free market. We are very dependent on what the government decides we get paid. And to the extent that those rates- Medicaid rates and the Medicare rates, they don’t keep up with increased costs. Today ,we are living in a time of inflation. And also we are living in a time where workers are demanding more money,” said Johnson.

During this year’s legislative session, Kentucky lawmakers passed several measures breaking down barriers for nurses to get licensed, as well as bringing in nurses to the state.

“We are going to have to start chipping away at whatever is causing individuals to leave and not come. But also what we can do to attract the quality work force that we so need,” said Johnson.

These regulations are not a done deal. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services is planning to go to nursing facilities later this fall, including Kentucky, to get feedback.

Right now,  Johnson says she and other nursing facilities are submitting their concerns to CMS.

Categories: Features, Local News, News