Nursing homes, hospitals join forces to urge stop to harmful federal staffing mandate
Oct. 20, 2023
Devon Barill, Director of Communications
Erin Stewart, Director of Digital Media and Marketing
Georgia Hospital Association
The Georgia Health Care Association and the Georgia Hospital Association have joined forces to urge the state's congressional delegation to oppose a recent Biden administration nurse staffing mandate for nursing homes that will reduce access for patients and harm the continuum of care that includes hospitals. The groups asked congressional representatives to instead focus on efforts to expand the health care workforce pipeline to meet the surging demand in Georgia for these services in the coming decades.
“We share the administration's goal of ensuring that high-quality, patient-centered care is available to all of our nation's seniors and individuals with disabilities,” said GHCA President and CEO Chris Downing and GHA President and CEO Caylee Noggle in a joint letter to the Georgia delegation members. “However, the proposed unfunded mandate will cost billions, is unfeasible amid an ongoing labor crisis, and threatens to reduce access to care in Georgia and nationally.”
The letter responds to a recent Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rule that will require 24/7 staffing by Registered Nurses at a time when Georgia's providers are facing a shortage of tens of thousands of nurses for current positions. A recent study commissioned by the American Health Care Association found that the unfunded mandate would require $187 million each year to hire more than 3,652 additional caregivers in Georgia. Less than 1% of nursing homes in the state meet all the new requirements, and 76% of Georgia nursing homes do not currently meet any of the three proposed staffing requirements.
“We anticipate many nursing homes may be unable to meet these staffing mandates and will be forced to further reduce their capacity and even close their doors,” Downing and Noggle wrote. “More than 9,589 residents are at risk of being displaced from their nursing homes in Georgia. This will especially impact vulnerable seniors living in rural parts of the state and accelerate the domino effect across the entire continuum of care. A further reduction in nursing home beds will exacerbate the challenges hospitals are currently facing and overwhelm our health care system.”
Lack of access to nursing home beds immediately affects hospitals. Patients who are ready to be discharged stay in the hospital longer while they wait for an open long term care bed to become available. Emergency departments become more crowded as patients in need of admission wait for an inpatient bed to become available. Ambulance and EMS providers wait longer to release their patients to the emergency department staff, leaving ambulances out of service for extended periods.
Instead of an unattainable mandate on staffing, the GHCA and GHA asked that lawmakers join their efforts “to focus on thoughtful workforce policies that will help address nationwide nursing shortages and attract more caregivers to the profession.”
Click here to read a copy of the letter sent to Georgia's congressional delegation.