ICYMI: Coalition Of Diverse Health Care Stakeholders Unite Against Federal Staffing Mandate

Advocacy; Workforce
​​​​In case you missed it, the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and long term care facilities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year, hosted a press conference with long term care providers and health care leaders to discuss the negative impact of the Administration's federal staffing mandate for nursing homes.

Participants included:

  • Mark Parkinson, president and CEO, AHCA/NCAL
  • Clif Porter, senior vice president, government relations, AHCA/NCAL
  • Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO, LeadingAge
  • Alexa McKinley Abel, J.D., director of government affairs and policy, National Rural Health Association
  • Nate Schema, president and CEO, Good Samaritan Society, the nation's largest non-profit provider of skilled nursing services and part of Sanford Health
  • Melissa Jackson, past president and current liaison officer, National Association of State Veterans Homes
  • Patricia Horn, co-owner, Cedar Hill Continuing Care Community in Windsor, Vermont
The press conference took place during AHCA/NCAL's annual Congressional Briefing, where more than 600 long term and post-acute care professionals from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C. to meet with federal lawmakers and discuss the profession's legislative priorities. The event's attendance is AHCA/NCAL's highest in history.

During the press conference, the participants took a united stance against the federal staffing mandate and the dangerous implications for our nation's seniors and their access to care, particularly in rural communities where access is already severely limited.

Parkinson, Porter and Sloan reinforced the flaws of the mandate and the sector's commitment to ensure current and future long term care residents receive the quality care they need and deserve:

​Parkinson: “The reality is that there is no scenario in which the staffing mandate works. Only six percent of nursing homes currently meet all four requirements. We know that 80 percent of nursing homes will have to hire more RNs to meet the 24/7 RN requirement, including 92 percent of rural facilities. Nursing homes will have to hire an additional 102,000 nurses and nurse aides to comply with the mandate, and it will cost nursing homes an estimated $6.5 billion annually to hire these additional caregivers."

Porter: “We all know the legislative process is not an easy one. But we will not give up this fight. We will continue to speak up and speak out and ensure that our seniors continue to have access to the high-quality care they deserve. It's great to have this coalition of providers united on this issue and fighting together, because we're all impacted, and change will require fortitude, patience, and the sharing of stories much like those that we heard today."

Sloan: “What we should ALL be concerned about is the lack of access to services when they are needed and the urgency to address workforce challenges. There are backups in hospitals because patients cannot be discharged due to lack of caregivers, because there are not available home health services or nursing home beds."

McKinley and Schema highlighted how the federal staffing mandate would acutely affect rural communities:

McKinley: “While CMS and federal regulators may argue that the exemptions they've carved out can be met, the reality is that they are unworkable. Similarly, the extended timeline provided to rural communities is truly a double-edged sword. It's likely that urban facilities and other sectors of health care will have hired the limited number of RNs available—leaving rural facilities in yet another stage of the workforce crisis, but this time with the mandated timeline for finding a solution."

Schema: “Closure is a last resort, and it is devastating and disruptive to our seniors and their families, especially in rural areas where the next closest nursing home can be an hour-drive away. Enforcing a one-size-fits-all staffing requirement will create an access crisis for our rural communities where the availability of qualified caregivers is already limited."

Jackson discussed what's at stake for veterans' care:

“Demand for veteran care is only going to increase. Demographic trends anticipate a 73 percent increase in enrollees ages 85 or older between 2023 and 2035. We need lawmakers to address these issues comprehensively. This staffing mandate will have a negative trickle-down impact on the entire health care system. Veterans need skilled care. We are struggling to keep our facilities open. The demand is only going to grow, and a mandate isn't making this situation better."

Horn echoed the concerns nursing homes nationwide are having over the one-size-fits-all mandate:

“We have explored innovative programs to recruit and retain more staff, including recruiting international caregivers and developing apprenticeship initiatives along with wage increases, but these efforts alone – and without proper government support - are not enough. The staffing mandate feels like putting the cart before the horse. We need to build and train our workforce before strict mandates and requirements are placed upon our facilities."

Read all remarks as prepared for delivery HERE.