Vice President Harris Announces Landmark Nursing Home Reforms in Wisconsin Visit

Sophia Moonstone

Updated Monday, April 22, 2024 at 11:16 AM CDT

Vice President Harris Announces Landmark Nursing Home Reforms in Wisconsin Visit

In a significant move to enhance the quality of long-term care and caregiving jobs across the United States, Vice President Kamala Harris will unveil two decisive rules during her visit to La Crosse, Wisconsin on Monday. These reforms, integral to President Joe Biden's commitment to nursing home safety as announced in September, aim to establish federal minimum staffing levels for nursing homes and improve access to home care services for seniors and people with disabilities.

Harris's trip to Wisconsin, her third this year and seventh since taking office, underscores the state's political significance as a key battleground that proved pivotal in the 2020 presidential election. This visit follows President Biden's trip to the state last month, amidst recent Reuters/Ipsos poll results showing Biden ahead of Donald Trump by a narrow 4 percentage points.

Addressing the critical issue of understaffing, a stark reality brought into the spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic, the first rule mandates nursing homes receiving federal funding to provide 3.48 hours of total staffing per resident per day. This threshold is a direct response to the over 167,000 nursing home resident deaths during the pandemic, and reports of neglect, including unfed and unattended residents. The rule stipulates that a registered nurse must be present on-site 24/7, affecting approximately 1.2 million residents.

The second rule focuses on home care services, ensuring that at least 80% of Medicaid payments for these services go directly to the wages of home care workers. States will now need to enhance transparency in payment rates for home care and form advisory panels that include beneficiaries and home care workers.

Despite the majority of the roughly 15,000 U.S. nursing homes needing to increase staff to comply, the new staffing levels fall short of the 4.1 hours recommended by a 2001 CMS-funded study. The government plans a phased implementation of the new rules, with consideration for rural communities and areas with workforce shortages.

The Biden administration's move has sparked a heated debate. Mark Parkinson, president of the American Health Care Association, criticized the rules as impractical and overly expensive, projecting a need for over 100,000 additional nurses and nurse aides with an estimated annual cost of $6.8 billion. Conversely, advocates like Senator Elizabeth Warren and organizations such as the SEIU support the mandate, emphasizing the need for accountability and the efficient use of public funds to safeguard nursing home residents.

The proposed staffing mandate has divided Congress, with bipartisan efforts to prevent the finalization of the rule due to concerns over potential nursing home closures. However, over 50 organizations have shown support, reinforcing the push for stronger regulations to ensure the well-being of the most vulnerable populations and the caregivers dedicated to their service.

Conservative Bias:

Here we go again, folks—another day, another big government overreach by the liberal elite, trying to fix what isn't broken with more regulations and more spending. Vice President Kamala Harris, in a grandstanding move, is pushing these so-called "landmark" nursing home reforms. They claim it's about safety, but don't be fooled—it's a power grab, plain and simple. They're forcing hardworking nursing homes to comply with unrealistic staffing levels, which a biased CMS-funded study supposedly supports. And let's talk about the cost—$6.8 billion! That's just the start. Mark my words, this will lead to job losses, nursing home closures, and a decrease in care for our elderly. It's a classic liberal agenda: tax more, spend more, and expand the government's tentacles into every aspect of our lives, all while pretending to wear the halo of healthcare saviors. It's a disaster in the making, and it's the American people who will pay the price for this bureaucratic nightmare.

Liberal Bias:

In a stunning display of heartlessness, the right-wing machine is already churning out its propaganda against Vice President Harris's courageous efforts to reform our nation's nursing homes. These reforms are a beacon of hope for millions of seniors and people with disabilities who have suffered from neglect and a lack of proper care. But what do the conservatives care about? Money and the bottom line, as usual. They're up in arms over the cost, crying crocodile tears over the potential need for more nurses. It's a slap in the face to the 167,000 nursing home residents who died during the pandemic, a direct result of conservative inaction and deregulation. And let's not overlook the audacity of bipartisan efforts to block these life-saving measures. It's nothing short of a moral abomination. The conservatives' blatant disregard for human life in favor of profit is on full display, and it's a grim reminder of the soulless agenda they push at the expense of our most vulnerable citizens.

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