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 Bipartisan Legislation Seeks to Modify CNA Mandatory Lockout Rules

Long term and post-acute care advocates offered their support for bipartisan legislation that would modify the certified nurse assistant (CNA) training lockout provision of a decades-old budget law by giving the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) more flexibility in reinstating providers’ CNA training programs.

Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) introduced the Nursing Home Workforce Quality Act, which would eliminate the mandatory CNA training lockout for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), and instead allow the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to impose a lockout based on a substandard quality of care.

Under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA), SNFs that are assessed civil monetary penalties above a certain level (roughly $10,000) on their annual survey automatically lose their authority to train staff to be CNAs for two years, according to a joint statement by the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) and LeadingAge.

The suspension, the two groups noted, is required even if the fines are unrelated to the quality of care given to residents or if the care deficiencies cited on the survey are unrelated to the SNF’s CNA training program.

“Effectively eliminating training programs for vital frontline staff threatens the quality of care we provide, particularly as the shortage of health care workers becomes more acute,” said Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of AHCA/NCAL.

CNAs, he added, are the backbone of quality care, and the jobs that skilled nursing and assisted living communities provide are often integral to the community, particularly in rural and small communities where they are the major employer in the area.

“This bill will help everyone be more responsive to the needs of residents and providers,” Parkinson said.

LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said, “the introduction of this bill is a monumental step forward in our ongoing efforts to address the challenges providers face in recruiting and retaining workers.”

In a separate statement, Duffy said the CNA lockout rule impacts nearly half of all SNFs in Wisconsin, while in some states that number exceeds 75 percent of facilities.

“As baby boomers continue to live longer and rely more heavily on nonfamilial methods of senior care like nursing homes, SNFs will need the ability to meet growing labor demands,” he said.

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