In South Dakota, we have strong leadership and dedicated employees who go to work every day in our nursing homes, caring for our most vulnerable population. They have endured more than any other industry during and after the pandemic and continue to struggle with staffing, finances and an aging infrastructure. On September 1st, President Biden’s administration proposed a minimum staffing ratio aimed at improving the care in nursing homes. This initiative is well-intentioned, but it will have unintended consequences that the public needs to be aware of given the vital role of nursing homes and the ripple effect it will have in the long-term care industry.
Nursing home admissions are limited today due to staffing. Many wings and beds have been taken out of service because we just cannot find enough staff to apply for the open positions. The lack of availability creates a back-log in our hospitals and puts more pressure on families to find care for their loved-one in the home. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) admits that 75% of nursing homes would not meet the level of staffing they are proposing in the rule.
The SDAHO team is working diligently during the 60-day comment period to gather facts and develop possible alternatives to this proposal. Tammy Hatting, SDAHO’s COO and LeadingAge State Executive states “Advocacy is our top priority right now for our nursing home industry. We need to push back on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) proposed rule and unfunded mandate as this will be devastating to our rural communities and I fear nursing homes will have no choice but to close if they cannot find the staff. ”
We are working with our local legislators, federal delegation and national organizations to ensure access to nursing home care in South Dakota will remain viable.