In his 2022 State of the Union address, U.S. President Joe Biden announced new initiatives to improve the quality of nursing home care¹. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is ready with new measures to hold long-term facilities accountable for the care they provide. The goal is to reduce nursing home negligence and improve care for facility residents across the county.
Here’s what you need to know about these new initiatives explained by our nursing home abuse attorneys.
What Are the New 2022 State of the Union Nursing Home Protections?
New initiatives of the Department of Health and Human Services will ensure:
- Adequate staffing for nursing home facilities
- Accountability for unsafe care
- Immediate improvement measures when issues arise
- Denial of taxpayer dollars to poorly performing nursing homes
- Better information about facility conditions so people can make informed choices
Why Are There New Initiatives for Nursing Homes in 2022?
Throughout the United States,15,500 facilities qualify to receive federal funding, according to the White House Fact Sheet¹. In total, more than 1.4 million people call these facilities home. Approximately ¼ of COVID deaths were among nursing home residents. U.S. officials announced the new measures saying that the pandemic raised awareness about poor living conditions in senior care facilities.
Even with increased attention to elderly care, many see warning signs that standards remain sub-par. Long-term care facilities have strict guidelines, but they often fail to comply. The White House also reports that 82% of nursing homes failed inspections for infection risk. They added that even basic handwashing is not done sufficiently in many care facilities.
Authorities don’t want to wait for things to get worse. U.S. officials are ready to implement new measures to protect vulnerable residents and help the workers who care for them. Ultimately, the goal is safe and respectful care of our nation’s seniors.
What Are the Details of the 2022 SOTU Nursing Home Initiative?
The new proposals in the 2022 State of the Union address, announced by the White House, include:
- Minimum staffing requirements. Increased nurse staffing or facility staff members is associated with better outcomes for residents. Higher staffing levels lead to higher-quality care.
- Prevent crowding. With transmissible infection and disease being a constant concern in care facilities, measures to reduce crowding and room sharing can improve living conditions. Government officials hope to find ways to phase out triple-occupancy rooms and increase single-occupancy.
- Incentives for quality performance. Officials hope to improve the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program. Facilities can receive incentive funding for outstanding performance. Weekend staffing levels and staff turnover rates are two metrics that may be tracked as part of the incentive program.
- Prevent unnecessary care. Part of improving care and outcomes in nursing home facilities means preventing the overuse of unnecessary medications and treatments. Incorrect diagnosis and treatments still happen too often, especially with antipsychotic drugs.
- More funding for inspections. Although resident and facility complaints are increasing, inspections are not. Government officials hope to increase funding for inspections.
- Identify problems. Authorities hope to identify facilities most at risk to provide stricter requirements, enforcement, and support.
- Expand penalties and sanctions. One of the ways that authorities can support safe care and adequate staffing is through financial penalties. New regulations may raise the amounts of financial penalties, including fines of up to $1,000,000 per occurrence. Additional scrutiny may be placed on chain owners with performance issues.
- Transparency measures. New transparency measures would create a database of problematic facilities and create a rating system. More data will be collected and published to allow families to make better decisions regarding care.
With an increased focus on quality in nursing homes, and the President shining a light on this important issue during the 2022 State of the Union address, these measures are closer than ever to becoming reality. Additional protections and care reforms are crucial for people with friends and family in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Why Are Some People Against These New Measures?
According to an article published in Kaiser Health News² after the State of the Union address, many nursing facility leaders feel the President’s proposal will make operations incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to sustain.
To meet staffing level requirements for long-term care facilities means finding the funds to support more people. Particularly, many nursing homes and assisted living facilities with Medicaid residents will struggle in this aspect.
What’s Needed for These Proposed Protections To Become Law?
KNH.org² also reports the Biden administration is asking Congress for several things to implement these proposed protections to reduce nursing home abuse or neglect, including:
- Authority to ban facilities owned by individuals or corporations with poor operational track records from the Medicare and Medicaid program
- $500 million for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to conduct regular and thorough inspections of facilities
However, many proposed changes will not need to be approved by Congress to go into effect.
Nursing Home Safety and Care Protections
Everyone who lives in a long-term care facility has the right to live in a safe environment. They have a right to medical care, privacy, and the best quality of life. A nursing home should be just that—home.
If you or a family member has been the victim of abuse or emotional neglect in a nursing home or assisted living facility, we invite you to contact the Bachus & Schanker personal injury attorneys to see if you have a case. We can help you seek justice for your injuries and suffering.
¹The White House. (28 February 2022). FACT SHEET: Protecting Seniors and People with Disabilities by Improving Safety and Quality of Care in the Nation’s Nursing Homes. Retrieved 2 March 2022.
²Rau, Jordan. (2 March 2022). Biden’s Promise of Better Nursing Home Care Will Require Many More Workers. Kaiser Health News. Retrieved 2 March 2022.