New legislation seeks to protect individuals in nursing homes by implementing better staffing protocols — including increased clinical hours and training — among other safety measures for residents. The Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents Act has the support of at least 27 representatives and two senators. Nursing homes have a resident population of 1.5 million Americans every year — including older Americans, people with disabilities, patients with physical and mental health concerns.

The bill calls for more sufficient staffing levels, increased nurse training, and stronger protection for nursing home residents’ legal rights.

More specifically, the bill calls for:
  • Increased baseline staffing levels under Medicare and Medicaid;
  • Heightened training and supervision obligations for nursing staff;
  • Safeguards for whistleblowers for both personnel and residents;
  • Bans coercive arbitration arrangements between nursing homes and residents;
  • Implements a regulated protocol for collecting consent, both written and informed, from residents treated with psychotropic drugs

Staffing has come under scrutiny from lawmakers and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, with CMS recently amending the five-star rating system. The issue has also been in the press for years including a July 2018 New York Times piece revealing that nursing homes had been significantly over-reporting their nurse and caretaker staffing levels for years; CMS eventually re-calibrated and 1,400 buildings had the lowest one-star rating for staffing.

Under the proposal, nursing homes would have to meet the following standards for staffing, or face a freeze on payments and fines of $10,000 per day — as well as potentially having the government temporarily take over the property or terminate its ability to participate in Medicare and Medicaid.

Source: Rep. Jan Schakowsky


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