Montana Public Radio: Medicaid officials propose nursing home staffing requirements

by Aaron Bolton

Federal officials have proposed a nationwide rule that will require nursing homes to meet specific staffing ratios. The rule aims to improve care for residents, but it may be a burden for rural facilities.

The rule proposed by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would require a registered nurse to be on duty 24 hours a day. The rule would also require that enough staff are on hand to provide a designated amount of time to each patient daily.

Rose Hughes is the Executive Director of the Montana Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes across the state.

“Mandating that you hire more workers when you can’t find workers just seems like a waste of everybody’s’ effort,” Hughes said.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and Republican Sen. Steve Daines pushed back against the rule, arguing that rural nursing homes should be exempt.

CMS said it would give rural nursing homes three to five years to meet the standards. The agency said it will also provide temporary exemptions for facilities that can prove they are unable to meet the standard because of an inadequate local workforce.