What They Are Saying: Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, U.S. Small Business Administration Among Latest Voices To Express Concern Over Staffing Mandate

Growing Bipartisan Opposition Illustrates How Federal & State Leaders Are Putting Policy Over Politics

Advocacy; Workforce

The list of elected officials and federal leaders who are weighing in on the Biden Administration’s flawed federal staffing mandate for America’s nursing homes continues to grow. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO-08), U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05) and U.S. Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) wrote letters to Biden Administration officials to express their concern about the unintended consequences of the proposed rule.

Governor Kelly, U.S. Representatives Smith and McMorris Rodgers, and U.S. Senator Crapo specifically drew attention to the impact that the mandate will have on access to care in rural communities. The SBA highlighted that the majority of nursing homes are small businesses, argued that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) possibly underestimated the true cost of the mandate and should have conducted an initial regulatory flexibility analysis. These officials are among dozens of state and federal leaders on both sides of the aisle that have spoken out against the mandate in recent weeks, underscoring that protecting seniors’ access to care is not a partisan issue.

Read more from their letters:

“While I appreciate the intention of the proposed rule resulting in increased quality of care for residents served in nursing facilities, I have concerns with the unintended consequences a rule such as this may have on a rural state like Kansas… According to LeadingAge Kansas, nearly 85,000 Kansans live in areas with only one nursing and residential care provider within a 30-minute drive. They are at risk of joining the 23,000 Kansans already living in a care desert. Seniors and their families should not be forced to choose between moving to receive health care services or attempting to make do at home with loved ones… I would respectfully request that you delay implementation of this rule so that we can address the root problem and build a foundation that can sustain our mutual goal.”

“[The Office of] Advocacy shares CMS’ desire to advance policies aimed at improving the quality of care for the nation’s seniors and acknowledges the difficulties CMS faces in balancing the policy goal of establishing stronger staffing requirements against the practicalities of implementation and costs. However, Advocacy is concerned that this rule may have unintended consequences that negatively impact long-term care facilities and other related providers, the vast majority of which are small businesses. These impacts are particularly troublesome at a time when there is a real shortage of qualified nurses and other nursing home caregivers in the United States, especially in rural areas.”

“This one-size-fits-all, unfunded mandate will jeopardize access to care for the 1.2 million Americans living in more than 15,000 certified nursing homes nationwide – especially those who reside in rural and underserved areas. Our nation’s nursing homes have weathered an unprecedented storm over the past three years. From government spending induced inflation to pandemic provider burnout, community access to long-term care services has been strained. Since January 2020, over 400 nursing homes closed their doors and approximately 190,000 nursing home employees left the workforce…Given this current landscape, the Administration’s proposal will only serve to further undermine patient access to skilled nursing care. As such, we strongly urge you to withdraw the rule and work with us on tailored solutions addressing the severe health care workforce shortages in our states.”

See what other elected officials, health care experts and long term care leaders are saying about the misguided federal staffing mandate HERE.​