During a time nursing homes are experiencing staffing crisis, an executive order directing HHS to consider "issuing several regulations and guidance documents to improve the quality of home care jobs..." The executive order seeks to tie medicare payments to nursing home employee retention. What does this mean for the nursing home industry?
Nursing homes are feeling the frustration of changing regulations that will essentially punish them but provide no aid or funding to help resolve the crisis. Essentially, there is a threat to withhold Medicare payments if a nursing home does not meet the staffing requirements. This comes at a time when nursing homes are struggling to find workers.
No one is arguing that CNA's and other workers need higher wages. Raising wages is not a simple matter, especially when facilities are facing acute financial problems. Larger changes are needed in order to support wage increases.
The executive order fails to address the nursing crisis. 55% of the nurses in the workforce over the age of 50. 1 million nurses are expected to reach retirement age in the next 10 - 15 years. Thousands of nursing applications are being rejected due to shortage of faculty.
HHS has discussed funding and programs that will help provide education and assistance to help increase the workforce, however, increasing the workforce does not help solve the problem nursing homes are facing.
Shifting the Focus
The focus needs to shift from punishing nursing homes and help create incentives that help educate, attract, and retain workers. Staffing requirements without offering solutions on attracting and retaining workers will just lead to facility closures.
Many nursing homes are dependent on Medicaid reimbursements in Louisiana. Unless the reimbursement rates are raised, nursing homes are left with wage structural issues that leaves them with little alternatives.
The demand for higher pay, higher staffing requirements without providing the funding support from Medicare and Medicaid along with state and federal backing ultimately leaves our most vulnerable population, our elderly at risk.