Tester Pushes Biden Administration to Provide Flexibility for Rural Nursing Homes, Reject One-Size-Fits-All Mandate   

In letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Senator emphasizes workforce challenges facing rural America and underserved areas

As part of his continued push to support rural nursing homes and ensure Montanans have access to quality, affordable health care, U.S. Senator Jon Tester urged the Biden Administration not to implement a burdensome staffing mandate that would exacerbate the serious recruitment and retention challenges currently facing nursing homes in rural America.

In his letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shalanda Young, Tester emphasizes that any staffing mandate should include flexibility for rural facilities, and stressed that a one-sized-fit-all policy would be wrong for rural communities like Montana and urged the Administration to work with Congress to deliver a tailored solution.

“I fear a one-size-fits-all staffing mandate would undermine access to care for patients, particularly in rural communities. Instead, I urge you to work with Congress and rural stakeholders on tailored solutions that address the severe workforce challenges in underserved areas,” Tester wrote. “A blanket staffing mandate would not account for individual facilities’ operational capabilities and staffing circumstances.”

Tester concluded his letter by urging the Administration to take into account recruitment and retention issues in rural America, writing: “CMS must provide flexibility to nursing homes in light of well-known and long-standing obstacles to the recruitment and retention of direct care workers, especially in rural and underserved areas.”

Tester has lead the charge to ensure Montana seniors have access to quality long-term care. In January, Tester led a bipartisan 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.

You can read Tester’s full letter HERE.


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