Nursing homes unite in appeal to protect access to care
GHCA, LeadingAge Georgia ask congressional delegation to oppose mandates that will lead to fewer resident beds
Georgia's top associations representing skilled nursing homes and long term care facilities sent a joint letter to the state's congressional delegation members this week, appealing for their leadership to stop a proposed federal mandate on unattainable nursing staffing levels. The Georgia Health Care Association and LeadingAge Georgia warned in the letter that an “unfunded mandate amid an ongoing workforce crisis will be impossible for nursing homes to meet, jeopardizing access to care for seniors in Georgia and nationally.”
“In Georgia, caregiver shortages have led to nursing homes limiting resident admissions, closing units and wings, and many are at risk of closing their doors completely,” wrote Chris Downing and Ginny Helms, president and CEO of GHCA and LeadingAge Georgia, respectively. “The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposal -- which offers no meaningful support to help build a pipeline of new caregivers or incentivize them to choose a career in long term care -- will only exacerbate the ongoing labor crisis and threaten to further reduce access to care.”
Downing and Helms note that Georgia has one of the lowest ratios of registered nurses per capita in the country and that RNs aren't the only professionals who can ably do the job.
“The staffing requirements also do not account for the thousands of dedicated Licensed Practical Nurses providing care in Georgia's nursing homes, nor other competent staff such as social workers, therapists or activity professionals,” the letter pointed out. “This sends a terrible message to these dedicated heath care professionals who are valued members of the care team. What's more, this impossible standard will not improve quality care, as CMS' own study finds. Every resident is unique, and a one-size-fits-all approach will have unintended consequences that will be detrimental to our residents.”
A recent study commissioned by the American Health Care Association found that the mandate would cost Georgia nursing homes more than $187 million annually and require the hiring of 3,652 new nurses – a number unattainable today and for years to come.
“A nationwide, one-size-fits-all staffing mandate is not what Georgia seniors need, and our nursing homes cannot meet this staffing mandate as it's currently proposed without the proper funding and workforce programs,” Downing and Helms said. “We ask that you join us in urging the administration and CMS to focus on thoughtful and supportive policies rather than unfunded mandates that will not improve care or the ongoing labor crisis.”
Click here to read a copy of the letter sent to Georgia's congressional delegation.