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Biden vows to crack down on poorest-performing nursing homes in the US

The White House has announced plans to boost nursing home staffing and oversight, blaming some of the 200,000-plus covid deaths of nursing home residents and staff during the pandemic on inadequate conditions.

Officials said the plan would set minimum staffing levels, reduce the use of shared rooms and crack down on the poorest-performing nursing homes to reduce the risk of residents contracting infectious diseases. The White House also said it planned to scrutinise the role of private equity firms, citing data that their ownership was linked with worse outcomes and higher costs.

Nursing homes have been an epicenter of covid spread during the pandemic, as the virus initially tore through facilities before vaccines were available in 2020, and then continued to sicken and kill residents at an elevated rate last year. Advocates have demanded better policies to ensure the facilities are prepared for emergencies and follow practices to curb the spread of infections.

Under Biden’s plan, officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will propose minimum staffing levels within the next year, which the White House said would improve safety by ensuring residents receive sufficient care and attention. The administration also cited a study that found increased staffing levels were linked with fewer covid cases and deaths.

The nursing home industry has warned that the pandemic has exacerbated long-running staffing shortages, noting that roughly 420,000 employees in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, many of whom complained about low pay, have departed over the last two years.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: The Washington Post, 28 February 2022


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