How Biden’s new nursing home staffing requirements could affect Nebraskans

Nursing homes in Nebraska are now bound by federal staffing guidelines designed to keep older Nebraskans safe.
Published: Sep. 10, 2023 at 5:13 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - President Joe Biden promised Americans safer nursing homes in his 2022 State of the Union address.

On Sept. 1, the Biden Administration proposed a new rule requiring each nursing home resident of a Medicaid- or Medicare-certified facility to get at least three hours of care per day, about 2.5 hours from a nurse aide and about 30 minutes from a registered nurse.

The rule affects about 1.2 million people in nursing homes. About 75% of nursing homes would have to up their staff, according to the press release.

The Director of Nursing at Clarkson College in Omaha said nurses in the metro are learning to fill the need.

“That is a huge population that needs to be served,” said director Mary Dishman.

She oversees about 350 nurses in training this year.

“Nurses that go into long-term care either have cared for an older relative and they really love that population or they work in long-term care,” said Dishman. “That’s what’s really driven them to go into nursing school.”

Currently, states are left to regulate the staffing requirements. In Nebraska, the Department of Health and Human Services staff requirements state “the facility must maintain a sufficient number of staff with the required training and skills necessary to meet the resident population’s requirements for assistance or provision of personal care, activities of daily living, supervision, supportive services and medical care where appropriate.”

“Sufficient” can be open to interpretation.

The new rule would require a registered nurse onsite 24/7.

“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,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

It’s a population that often needs extra help.

“We know that in long-term care they’re caring for a lot more patients with higher acuity needs than ever before,” said Dishman.

Opponents of the proposed rule argue these staffing requirements would strain an industry already grappling with shortages. Dishman said most of her nurses go to work for hospitals, not nursing homes.

“Majority of them will stay within the hospital settings, but we do have some that will go into long-term care,” she said.

Others argue that requirements aren’t enough. It’s unclear when this rule will go into effect, though it could be within the next 3 to 5 years.