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Nebraska healthcare organizations sound alarm on proposed Center for Medicare and Medicaid rule

Posted at 6:48 PM, Sep 14, 2023

OMAHA, Neb (KMTV) — On Sept. 1 the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services unveiled a new proposed rule it believes will ensure long-term care patients receive quality nursing home care.

But health advocates in Nebraska worry this new rule will end up doing far more harm than good.

“Nebraska has a very common sense approach that nursing facilities need to staff to meet resident needs," said Jolene Carpenter, President and CEO of the Nebraska Nursing Facility Association.
"This new rule would do is put an arbitrary number, that you always have to staff this very specific amount, no matter who you are taking care of and no matter the individual needs of the residents.”

The new rule consists of three proposals.

The first would set minimum staffing standards of .55 nursing hours per resident per day for registered nurses and 2.45 hours per resident for nurse aides.

It also sets a requirement to have an RN on site 24/7 and requires enhanced facility assessment requirements.

The Center for Medicaid & Medicare services would phase in these requirements over the next three to five years if the rule is adopted, but advocates say the hiring realities that long-term care facilities face won’t be overcome in that time.

“There are already staffing challenges before the pandemic and the pandemic exacerbated those challenges. To propose this rule right now is, frankly, unfeasible and unsustainable,” said Carpenter.

She is worried about more than just nursing homes. She is also concerned the negative effects of the rule will have a cascading effect that burdens the state’s entire healthcare system.

“They will either need to close or people will be sitting in a hospital waiting for a bed. If the facility doesn’t have that one additional staff member to take that resident then that resident will sit in the hospital longer,” said Carpenter.

Thankfully there is still some time before this rule goes into effect. There is a 60-day public comment period before any final decisions are made and Carpenter hopes that CMS listens to reason before Nebraska’s healthcare system faces another monumental challenge.

“This proposed rule is not a path to quality, it is a path to closure. Nothing in this rule will improve the quality for our residents in Nebraska,” said Carpenter.

There will be a 60-day comment period for the notice of proposed rulemaking, and comments must be submitted to the Federal Register no later than November 6, 2023. For more information on how to submit comments or to review the entire rule, visit the Federal Register https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/current.

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