Vice President Harris announces rules to improve staffing and care in nursing homes - TAI News
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Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks during a campaign event with President Joe Biden in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, March 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)

Vice President Kamala Harris on April 22 announced new regulations aimed at addressing worker shortages and inadequate care at federally funded nursing home facilities across the country.

The new rules will affect nursing homes that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding. It will require those facilities to have a certain number of registered nurses and nurse aides working at any given time. The nursing homes will also have to use 80% of the payments they receive from Medicaid for employee wages. 

“For residents, this will mean more staff, which means fewer ER visits potentially, more independence for families,” Harris said at a roundtable event at the Hmong Cultural and Community Agency in La Crosse, Wisconsin. “It’s going to mean peace of mind in terms of your loved one being taken care of. And for care workers, it’s going to be more time with their patients, less burnout, and lower turnover.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, staffing shortages have plagued nursing homes across the country, leading to adverse outcomes for residents, according to a report published in February by the Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general.

“Nursing homes repeatedly mentioned burnout as contributing to high rates of turnover,” the report says. “They noted that staff felt overworked and underappreciated, adding to a sense that their work was undervalued compared to work in other health care settings.” 

A report by the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living published in March found that 46% of nursing homes have had to limit new admissions because of staffing shortages. What’s more, 66% of nursing homes said they are either somewhat concerned or very concerned that they may have to close their facilities altogether because of ongoing workforce challenges.

Harris said the Biden administration’s new rules for the facilities are meant to address this crisis and help both workers at the facilities and those who reside there. 

“I am so grateful to our home healthcare workers, to our care workers, to the members of SEIU for the work you do every day. And again, I say, it is about time that we start to recognize your value and pay you accordingly and give you the structural support that you deserve,” Harris said.

Nursing home workers at the roundtable event thanked Harris and the Biden administration for implementing the new rules.

“Being short-staffed is not taking care of them like they should be,” Lisa Gordon, a certified nursing assistant, said at the event, according to local news station WXOW. “They didn’t ask to be there. Your residents are your family. They’re your loved ones. We need these changes.”

April Verrett, the secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, thanked the Biden administration for the new rules.

“This is going to impact the lives not just of millions of care workers in this country, but for the millions of people that nursing home workers and home care workers care for and their families and their communities,” Verrett said.

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