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In a recent letter to President Joe Biden, the American Health Care Association & National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) outlined several new solutions aimed at enhancing the quality of care provided in nursing homes across the nation. The move comes amid discussions surrounding a potential federal staffing mandate that has received staunch opposition from the association. 

The letter strongly argues against a federal staffing mandate, saying such a move would be unworkable considering the looming nursing shortage. The author—AHCA/NCAL President & CEO Mark Parkinson—warns that such a directive could inadvertently limit senior citizens’ access to care, as it might force nursing homes to either curtail the number of residents they serve or cease operations altogether.

Instead of mandates, the AHCA/NCAL offers a four-pronged policy proposal aimed at augmenting care quality in these essential facilities. The proposed policies are to: 

A senior citizen receiving care in a facility that is an AHCA member
The federal staffing directive could inadvertently limit senior citizens’ access to care.
  1. Publicly report customer satisfaction: This proposal aims to amplify the voices of residents and their families, guiding consumer choice and increasing transparency in nursing home selection.
  2. Build the long-term care workforce: The letter suggests supporting and retaining current nursing home caregivers and amplifying efforts to recruit additional ones, addressing the predicted caregiver shortage.
  3. Improve the special focus facility program: The current program’s inconsistent results call for an overhaul, with the proposal suggesting the incorporation of evidence-based performance improvement approaches.
  4. Enhance CMS’ SNF value-based purchasing program: An enhancement to this program would incentivize nursing homes to continuously aim for high-quality care, thus improving overall resident outcomes.

These solutions, the authors argue, would serve to:

  • Promote resident and family choice
  • Support and retain caregivers
  • Incentivize high-quality care
  • Incorporate proven performance improvement approaches into the oversight system
  • Reduce overall healthcare costs
  • Enhance transparency in the sector

The letter also refers to the Care For Our Seniors Act, a reform package unveiled in 2021. It underscores the necessity to ensure that financially strained nursing homes have sufficient resources. These resources would enable them to invest in their workforce, care, services, technology, and infrastructure, leading to more sustainable operations.

The members of AHCA/NCAL maintain that they are eager to work with the Biden Administration, members of Congress, and state policymakers to advance these proposals. They emphasize that meaningful change will not arise from unrealistic requirements and enforcement but from fostering a spirit of collaboration and innovation within the sector.

Experience Care will keep you updated on future developments.