Last year, the Center for Public Integrity published a report about widespread discrepancies in staffing levels reported by nursing homes.
The topic has resurfaced following a number of high-profile announcements by legislators and local government officials:
• A new law signed by Washington state governor Jay Inslee will require nursing homes to have enough staff on duty to give each resident 3.2 hours of direct care daily, starting in July 2016.
• Los Angeles County supervisors approved a new contract that redefines state and local responsibilities for inspecting nursing homes and other health facilities and investigating complaints of abuse, neglect or inadequate care of patients. The contract will increase the annual budget from $26.9 million to $41.8 million and will allow the county to hire about 70 more workers to conduct yearly inspections and investigate complaints.
• In February, Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky re-introduced to Congress the Put a Registered Nurse in the Nursing Home Act (H.R. 952), which would require skilled care nursing homes that receive Medicare and/or Medicaid reimbursement to have a direct-care RN on duty 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Currently, nursing homes are only required to have one direct-care RN in a facility for eight out of 24 hours regardless of the size.
The key takeaway is that state and federal oversight of nursing homes is putting increased emphasis on quality of patient care and nursing home staff.