Oct. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. Rep. Greg Pence and other bipartisan leaders are expressing concerns about a proposed rule that sets minimum nursing requirements and standards for nursing homes throughout the country.
The proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), issued on Sept. 1 under the directive of the Biden White House, seeks to set forth staffing requirements and other standards for nursing homes.
In a joint letter addressed to the Department of Health and Human Services on Monday, Pence, R-Ind., and fellow Reps. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn., Jared Golden, D-Maine, and Chris Pappas, D-N.H., conveyed apprehensions that the requirements might result in limited access to senior care for facilities that are already struggling.
"At a time when nursing homes are already experiencing healthcare worker shortages and financial hardships, CMS and the Biden Administration should not be implementing a regulation that would only exacerbate this issue," said Pence. "... This one-size-fits-all regulatory requirement will result in many negative consequences, and I strongly urge Secretary Becerra to reconsider this proposal."
Guthrie also stressed the need to address workforce issues instead of imposing unfunded mandates.
"I am pleased to join with Representatives Pence, Fischbach, Golden, and Pappas to express our serious concern about the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid's (CMS) proposed rule, which would lead to significant reductions in care for long-term care residents, especially in rural communities," Guthrie said.
According to Pence's office, various organizations, including the American Health Care Association, National Rural Health Association, National Association of State Veterans Homes, Lutheran Services in America, Council for Health and Human Services Ministries, and LeadingAge, have expressed support for the joint letter.
Under CMS's proposal, nursing homes participating in Medicare and Medicaid would need to provide residents with a minimum of 0.55 hours of care from a registered nurse per resident per day and 2.45 hours of care from a nurse aide per resident per day.
CMS estimates that about 75% of nursing homes would be required to bolster their staffing levels to comply with the regulations.
"Establishing minimum staffing standards for nursing homes will improve resident safety and promote high-quality care so residents and their families can have peace of mind," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra previously said. "When facilities are understaffed, residents suffer ... Comprehensive staffing reforms can improve working conditions, leading to higher wages and better retention for this dedicated workforce."
This suggested rule is an extension of President Biden's Action Plan for Nursing Home Reform, which was initiated during the 2022 State of the Union address.