The nation’s most thinly staffed nursing homes would be required to hire more workers under new rules proposed on Friday by the Biden administration, the greatest change to federal nursing home regulations in three decades.
The proposed standard was prompted by the industry’s troubled performance earlier in the coronavirus pandemic, when 200,000 nursing home residents died. But the proposal falls far short of what both the industry and patient advocates believe is needed to improve care for most of the 1.2 million Americans in nursing homes.
The proposal, by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, would require all facilities to increase staff up to certain minimum levels, but it included no money for nursing homes to pay for the new hires.
CMS estimated that three-quarters of the nation’s 15,000 homes would need to add staff members. But the increases at many of those facilities would be minor, as the average nursing home already employs nurses and aides at, or very close to, the proposed levels.
“The standards are a lot lower than what a lot of experts, including myself, have called for over the years,” said David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School. “There are some real positives in here, but I wish the administration had gone further.”
The government said it would exempt nursing homes from punishment if they could prove that there was a local …