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Another Florida group urges CMS to reconsider nursing home plan

 Lab technician Alejandra Sanchez works at Providence St. Mary Medical Center on March 11, 2022, in Apple Valley, California.
Mario Tama
Getty Images
CMS on Sept. 1 issued several provisions to bolster staffing in nursing homes.

A second group representing aging services providers in Florida has urged the Biden administration to reconsider implementing federal minimum staffing standards in nursing homes.

LeadingAge Florida said it submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services warning the proposal would have “unintended consequences” because of the shortage of nurses.

CMS on Sept. 1 issued several provisions to bolster staffing in nursing homes. Among the proposals are a minimum of 0.55 registered nurse and 2.45 nurse aide hours per resident day, and having a registered nurse on staff 24 hours per day seven days per week.

"The reality is that over 80% of Florida's nearly 700 nursing homes would not meet the minimum staffing hours per day as proposed," Steve Bahmer, LeadingAge Florida president and CEO, said in a news release.

"With the current shortfall of nurses and the outlook worsening in the future, this proposal is simply not realistic. The education system cannot meet the current demands. The added demand that this rule would create would dramatically increase scarcity, with ripple effects throughout the entire health care system."

LeadingAge Florida said it encouraged CMS to work collaboratively with long-term care providers and stakeholders” to find a balanced solution that ensures high-quality care for seniors in our state.”

Last week, the Florida Health Care Association, the state’s largest nursing home industry group, sent a similar letter CMS opposing the plan, calling the proposals “arbitrary and unfunded.”

Nursing home staffing has been a heavily debated issue in Florida for more than two decades, with lawmakers in 2022 revamping standards. A key issue has been the time certified nursing assistants must spend with each resident.

Under the 2022 law CNAs must provide a minimum of two hours of direct care per resident per day. The law kept a requirement that staff members, including CNAs and licensed nurses, provide a weekly average of 3.6 hours of direct care per patient per day. But it allowed time spent by other types of workers, such as physical therapists and occupational therapists, to be factored into the calculation.

Information from KFF Health News and News Service of Florida was used in this report.

Copyright 2023 Health News Florida

I’m the online producer for Health News Florida, a collaboration of public radio stations and NPR that delivers news about health care issues.