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DC State Ombudsman, Mark Miller, and Consumer Voice Executive Director, Lori Smetanka, Interviewed on a Minimum Staffing Standard in Nursing Homes

August 09, 2023

President Biden last year announced a slate of nursing home reforms and vowed staffing minimums would be among them. The new rules are still under review and could be released any day. Advocates have been calling for such a requirement for more than two decades, arguing that residents are safer and have better care with more staff, but the industry has successfully resisted.

Nursing home staffing rules haven’t changed since 1987, and there are no formal federal standards. Under federal law, facilities are required to provide 24-hour licensed nursing services that are “sufficient” to meet the nursing needs of residents. Facilities must also use the services of a registered nurse at least eight consecutive hours a day, seven days a week. The “sufficient” rule is too vague, experts and advocates said, and facilities have not been held to a high enough standard.

Mark Miller, DC State Ombudsman, and Lori Smetanka, Consumer Voice Executive Director contend the workforce shortage and high turnover rates can be solved by making the job more attractive with higher pay and better benefits. Miller said 60 to 70 percent of the complaints his office receives are staffing-related.

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