Following the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ release of its proposed nursing home staffing rule, an Illinois long-term care association is calling it unrealistic.
The proposal calls for Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing homes to provide a staffing equivalent of three hours per resident, per day. The rules also call for facilities to have a registered nurse on staff 24 hours a day, daily.
Angela Schnepf, president and CEO with the nonprofit LeadingAge Illinois, said COVID-19 decimated workforce numbers in long-term care facilities and they haven’t recovered.
“The challenge we had, particularly in the state of Illinois but also nationwide, is nursing homes in particular lost about 15% of their workforce population over COVID, and they have not been able to recover that,” Schnepf told The Center Square.
In Illinois, Schnepf anticipates communities will need to find and hire between 820 to 968 RNs and 7,500 to 8,039 certified nursing assistants.
Schnepf adds that ongoing retention efforts are underway, including paying for agency staff to help take on the workload, providing bonus and other incentives for staff willing to work extra hours, creation of food pantries for staff to shop from, free cooked meals while at the community, and more.
LeadingAge Illinois said the unfunded staffing mandate will cost between $383 million to $416 million before any future wage inflation. With no plan from the government to cover the increase in costs, the “vast disparity in healthcare is going to become that much larger.”
The Biden administration announced plans to launch a national effort to bolster nursing home staffing, including allocating $75 million for initiatives such as scholarships and tuition reimbursement programs.
Comments on the proposed rule are due by Nov. 6, 2023.