Biden Administration Takes Historic Action to Increase Access to Care

Recently, the Biden administration announced three rules to build on the President’s Action Plan for Nursing Home Reform & support Biden’s Executive Order on Increasing Access to High-Quality Care & Supporting Caregivers.

“Minimum Staffing Standards for Nursing Homes” establishes national minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes to improve the care that residents receive and support workers by ensuring that they have sufficient staff. 

Recent studies show the US nursing home industry is making enormous profits ($11B a year from this report).

The new rule seeks to redirect some of these profits into improving staff conditions and patient care. Historically, one of the primary issues within the industry has been the high staff turnover and burnout rates due to poor working conditions and inadequate compensation. By implementing a minimum staffing requirement, the administration aims to ensure that there are enough qualified staff members to meet the needs of residents, thereby potentially improving job satisfaction and retention rates among caregivers.

Additionally, the administration is introducing measures to enhance transparency and accountability in nursing homes. These include requiring facilities to publicly report their staffing levels and financial operations, which will help families make more informed decisions when choosing a facility for their loved ones. This move is expected to pressure nursing homes to allocate more of their profits towards improving care quality and working conditions, aligning their operational practices more closely with resident and worker welfare.

For too long, nursing home executives have been working solely for the owners of the business to lower operating costs and funnel those profits to the shareholders. They lowered costs, in large part, by cutting necessary nursing staff and as a result, we’ve seen a sharp decline in quality care within nursing homes followed by an increase in nurse turnover, creating the nurse shortage we have today,” shares DoorSpace CEO Sarah M. Worthy.

Minimum staffing requirements will help workers, which can lead to better care.

“By mandating safe and appropriate nurse-to-patient ratios, we will be able to bring back many of the experienced nurses who quit because of being overworked, burned out and undervalued. This decision shouldn’t be politicized. Instead – I hope it informs ALL of our politicians going forward to prioritize the safety and well being of American citizens over and above making billionaires even wealthier,” says Worthy.

To further solidify these efforts, the Biden administration is also focusing on enhancing the overall quality of care provided in nursing homes by setting stricter standards for staff qualifications and training. These new educational and training requirements are designed to ensure that all staff members, not just nurses, are well-equipped to handle the complexities of elder care. This includes specialized training in areas such as dementia care and emergency response, which are critical for improving the safety and well-being of nursing home residents.

The administration plans to implement regular inspections and audits to enforce compliance with these new regulations. Facilities found violating the minimum staffing or training standards may face significant penalties or even risk losing their licenses. These stringent measures are expected to foster a culture of excellence and accountability in nursing homes, making them safer and more responsive to the needs of their residents and the staff who care for them.

The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to bolstering the health care workforce and ensuring the contributions of workers across the long-term care sector are appropriately valued. CMS is developing a $75 million national nursing home staffing campaign to increase the number of nurses in nursing homes, thereby enhancing residents’ health and safety. Through this campaign, CMS will be providing financial incentives for nurses to work in  nursing homes.

The Biden administration’s recent directives mark a step forward in reforming the nursing home industry. Addressing the root causes of inadequate care and poor working conditions through comprehensive policy changes shows that the government may be setting a new standard for the quality of life for elderly citizens and the working environment for caregivers.