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Robert Namer
Voice Of America
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February 03, 2024

       The federal government will, for the first time, dictate staffing levels at nursing homes, the Biden administration said, responding to systemic problems bared by mass COVID-19 deaths. It seems beyond the scope of the federal government.

     While such regulation has been sought for decades by allies of older adults and those with disabilities, the proposed threshold is far lower than many advocates had hoped. It immediately drew ire from the nursing home industry as well, which said it amounted to a mandate that couldn't be met.  With criticism expected, a promise made with fanfare in President Joe Biden’s 2022 State of the Union speech had its details revealed as many Americans turned away from the news for a holiday weekend.

     "Establishing minimum staffing standards for nursing homes will improve resident safety," Health Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. "When facilities are understaffed, residents suffer."  The proposed rules, which now enter a public comment period and would take years more to fully take effect, call for staffing equivalent to 3 hours per resident per day, just over half an hour of it coming from registered nurses. The rules also call for facilities to have an RN on staff 24 hours a day, every day.

     The average U.S. nursing home already has overall caregiver staffing of about 3.6 hours per resident per day, according to government reports, including RN staffing just above the half-hour mark. 

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