Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), made the following statement today regarding the introduction of the Nursing Home Improvement and Accountability Act:

“We appreciate Sens. Wyden, Casey, Blumenthal, Bennet, Whitehouse, and Brown making long term care a priority and incorporating components of our reform proposals in the Nursing Home Improvement and Accountability Act, specifically enhanced Medicaid funding for long term care providers to support additional staffing for registered nurses and infection preventionists.

“Long term care providers are facing a historic financial crisis. Pandemic-related resources such as personal protective equipment, testing, and additional staffing have cost providers tens of billions of dollars. Coupled with longstanding Medicaid underfunding, many facilities are struggling to stay afloat. Moreover, providers were already dealing with workforce challenges prior to COVID, and the pandemic has exacerbated the staffing crisis.

“While the profession appreciates the initial steps offered in this bill, more is needed to adequately serve the vulnerable residents in our nation’s long term care centers. The proposal to institute permanent minimum staffing requirements without a permanent funding source would be incredibly challenging for long term care providers. Providers will not be able to meet staffing requirements if we can’t find people to fill the open positions. There must be a comprehensive approach to staffing beyond just numbers.

“We continue to strongly oppose the severe restrictions on arbitration agreements as proposed in this legislation. Arbitration is quicker and less costly than litigation in court and provides similar outcomes for residents and families. An excessive litigation environment, coupled with the existing financial crisis, means thousands of long term care facilities would be forced to close their doors, in turn, displacing tens of thousands of vulnerable residents and limiting access to critical services for our nation’s seniors.

“The long term care profession is committed to quality care for the millions of seniors and individuals with disabilities in our centers across the country. With proper funding, providers can offer meaningful jobs with competitive wages and enhance the overall quality of care for residents. We look forward to working with Congress and the sponsors of this piece of legislation to improve the lives of residents in long term care.”​