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Published on April 22, 2024
New White House Rule Mandates Minimum Staffing for Nursing Homes, Stirring Policy Debate and Industry BacklashSource: Unsplash/Dominik Lange

The White House has rolled out new rules laying down the law on minimum staff requirements for nursing homes, a move that's rattled parts of the healthcare industry and split Congress down the middle. Vice President Kamala Harris made the announcement yesterday, mandating that any nursing facility taking Medicare or Medicaid bucks provide at least 3.48 hours of nursing care to each resident per sunrise-to-sunset cycle, according to KXAN.

The new rule is a direct follow-up from a promise given by President Joe Biden during last year's State of the Union to take a tough stance against nursing homes putting residents at risk and will require facilities to keep registered nurses on the clock 24/7, which is seen as a step to cover when residents face a medical crunch or lack basic needs like baths, bathroom trips, and meals, the White House fact sheet detailed, it's clear that this kind of oversight is aimed to stop residents from being left high and dry because of scant staffing levels. During a scheduled stop in Wisconsin, Harris is set to meet with nursing home employees to discuss the impacts of their workload as reported by CNN.

This paradigm shift has nursing home industry leaders up in arms, fearing that adhering to such norms might run them out of business. They've argued that with a dire shortage of nursing professionals already biting hard, finding enough boots on the ground to meet these demands is a pipe dream. The American Health Care Association estimates fetching more than 100,000 fresh faces to fill these roles will chalk up an eye-watering tab of $6.8 billion a year.

Political lines are etched deep over this one, and folks at the Capitol are nowhere near a consensus; U.S. Rep. Michelle Fischbach, a Republican from Minnesota, labeled the ruling as an unfitting "one-size-fits-all" move and has even launched HR 7513 to block HHS from setting it in stone unfortunately, even though the White House has inked this rule into the books, Fischbach's bill is parked at the legislative garage waiting for the green light from the rest of the House, the Senate, and potentially a scribble from President Biden to throttle into effect, per KXAN.