There are about 15,000 nursing homes around the country, and many of those in New Mexico do not have enough registered nurses, certified nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses on their payrolls to provide adequate care to their patients. Understaffing has been linked to nursing home neglect and abuse, which is why the Biden administration has proposed rules that would mandate minimum levels of care and require long-term care facilities to have RNs on duty at all times.
RNs on duty
The most significant component of the proposals is the requirement for nursing homes to have at least one RN on duty around the clock and seven days per week. Current regulations require an RN to be on duty only eight hours per day. According to the White House, almost a quarter of the nation’s nursing homes would have to hire RNs to comply with the proposed rule. Advocacy groups like the Long-Term Care Community Coalition support the proposed nursing home staffing regulations, but they are fiercely opposed by trade groups including the Long-Term Care Community Coalition.
Hours of care
Congress gave the federal government the authority to impose nursing home minimum staffing levels in 1987 when it passed the Nursing Home Reform Act, but no standards have ever been adopted. The Biden administration’s proposals appear to be a step in the right direction, but they fall far short of what experts have called for to prevent nursing home negligence and abuse. Researchers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services who studied the issue in 2001 concluded that nursing home residents required at least 4.1 hours of personal care each day to prevent harm. The Biden administration proposals call for three hours of care each day and only 33 minutes of care from an RN.
A positive first step
Nursing home staffing regulations proposed by the Biden administration would require long-term care facilities to have an RN on call around the clock, but they do not mandate the level of care experts say is needed to prevent neglect and harm. The government was given the authority to mandate care levels at nursing homes more than three decades ago, but successive administrations failed to act. That is why the proposals are seen by many advocacy groups and experts as a positive first step.