AHCA/NCAL's participation in the Senate Finance Committee hearing, 'A National Tragedy: COVID-19 in the Nation’s Nursing Homes,' drew focus to the Care for Our Seniors Act, introduced in a press release and member webinar this past Monday.
In his testimonial, Chief Medical Officer David Gifford, MD, explained how reimbursement gaps between residents' cost of care and what providers are paid directly impact a nursing home's workforce. Workforce is just one of the four core areas for reform in the act.
Additional points made by Dr. Gifford to lawmakers included these:
- The most meaningful way to improve care is by focusing on infection control and increasing workforce availability
- Addressing poor nursing home care means incentivizing better care and increasing the number of staff at each bedside
- If nursing homes can't improve with appropriate assistance, they shouldn't continue to operate
Most importantly, he stressed that because LTC providers rely almost entirely on government reimbursement, their support is needed to make it happen.
What is the Care for Our Seniors Act?
In short, AHCA/NCAL and LeadingAge are joining forces to help long-term care (LTC) providers reform in four major categories:
- Clinical – enhance the quality of care
- Workforce – strengthen and support frontline caregivers
- Oversight – improve systems to be more resident-driven
- Structural – modernize for resident dignity and safety
As evidenced by AHCA/NCAL's participation in the hearing, COVID-19 shone a light on long-standing challenges for LTC to include:
- Workforce shortages
- Aging physical plants
- Underfunded government reimbursements
Now that the industry has our government's attention, the hope is that it will receive the funding needed to support these critical reform initiatives.
what Does reform really mean?
Upon securing government funding, AHCA/NCAL and LeadingAge hope to reform the LTC industry as explained below.
Equip each nursing home facility with:
- Enhanced Infection Control Preventionist
- 24-Hour RN
- Minimum PPE Supply (30-day average conventional use)
Implement a multi-phase approach to supply, attract and retain facility workforces, including:
- Student loan forgiveness and scholarships
- Tax credits for licensed LTC health care workers
- Housing and childcare assistance
- National, LTC-targeted campaign to increase the supply of nurse faculty/RNs
- Pathway for temporary nurse aides to become CNAs
- End to CNA training ban
- Expedited LPN-to-RN bridge programs
- Improve surveys
- Address chronic poor performing facilities
- Monitoring customer satisfaction of residents and families
- Upgrade outdated HVAC
- Drive national study and funding to support a transition to private rooms
AHCA/NCAL and LeadingAge can continue to use opportunities like last week's Senate Finance Committee hearing to advocate. So, get ready for reform. Think about how changes in surveys and the addition of customer satisfaction to star ratings might change your world. If you don't have ready access to clinical, staffing and census data for monitoring performance, we can help.
Care for our senior act Resources
- Care for Our Seniors Act - Full Provisions
- Care for Our Seniors Press Release
- AHCA/NCAL Member Webinar Resources