Blocking Biden Administration Rule That Would Shutter Rural Nursing Homes is Aim of Tester’s Bipartisan Bill

Senator’s Protecting Rural Seniors Access to Care Act would formally block CMS rule that could result in mass facility closures across Montana

As a part of his continued efforts to support rural nursing homes and ensure Montana’s seniors are receiving the highest quality long-term care possible, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today introduced his bipartisan Protecting Rural Seniors Access to Care Act. Tester’s legislation would prohibit the finalization of a proposed Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rule that would establish staffing ratios in rural nursing homes, which could result in mass facility closures across Montana.

“I’ve told the Biden Administration from the jump that imposing a burdensome one-size-fits-all staffing mandate simply won’t work for Montana’s rural nursing homes,” said Tester. “Our long-term care facilities are already facing severe workforce shortage issues, and this federal staffing mandate could force facilities to shut their doors. My bipartisan bill will stop this rule dead in its tracks, and I’m committed to working with my colleagues to address the nursing home workforce so we don’t leave rural seniors in the lurch.”

In addition to blocking the CMS staffing mandate, Tester’s bipartisan bill would create an advisory council to analyze the state of the nursing home workforce. The advisory council would then submit a report to Congress with recommendations to address these workforce challenges.

Tester has led the charge to ensure Montana seniors have access to quality long-term care. In September, Tester led a bipartisan letterdemanding the Biden Administration abandon their proposed CMS rule, arguing that he is “deeply concerned that now is the worst possible time for the United States to establish the nation’s first federal staffing mandate for long-term care facilities.” Tester also sent a letter calling on Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough to evaluate the impact of this proposed rule on veterans’ access to long-term care, especially in rural areas, and work to ensure their access.

In June, Tester sent a letter to CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to express concerns about the Administration’s intent to issue staffing mandates for nursing homes. Last year, Tester sent a letter to CMS urging the agency to reconsider a proposed rule to update Medicare payment policies and rates for skilled nursing facilities that would have resulted in a $320 million overall decrease in payments to long term care facilities. 

In recent years, staffing issues and nursing home closures have limited access to senior care in rural communities. Since 2021, Montana has seen the closure of 11 nursing homes, and in 2022 alone, the state lost more than 850 nursing home beds, according to the Montana Health Care Association.


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