The Biden Administration has released a bold and comprehensive plan to improve nursing home quality. The deaths from COVID-19 of more than 200,000 residents and staff highlighted for the American people, as never before, longstanding problems in how nursing homes operate and are regulated. Recognizing the need for change in multiple areas, President Biden proposes meaningful and essential changes in staffing, oversight, transparency of information about ownership and finances, and much more.
And how do nursing home executives and owners respond? They complain that they need more money. “In the 45 years I have advocated for nursing home residents, I have heard two recurring themes from the nursing home industry: regulate us less and pay us more,” said Center for Medicare Advocacy Senior Policy Attorney Toby S. Edelman.
“The nursing home industry is not over-regulated and underpaid,” she added. Facilities regularly ignore regulations with no consequence, in an oversight system that too often looks the other way when residents are harmed and suffer. The billions of dollars that nursing facilities receive from Medicare and Medicaid, the billions they receive in special COVID-19 funding, and the billions more in public benefits relied on by their underpaid workers belie the claim that facilities struggle financially.
The workers who provide care each day to residents for sub-minimal wages – who have literally placed their lives on the line during the pandemic – are true heroes and deserve better.
Nursing home owners and executives who complain that they need more money should stop whining. Instead, they should be part of the solution. They should support President Biden’s proposals and help improve nursing home care so that all residents are treated with dignity and respect and receive high quality care from fairly paid, trained, and respected staff.