New Bill Before Congress Could Mitigate Skilled Nursing Staffing Woes

Legislation introduced late last month would give the government greater flexibility in reinstating training programs offered by providers, even when the skilled nursing facilities have been hit with a civil monetary penalty (CMP).

At present, if a SNF receives a civil monetary penalty greater than $10,000, that facility is automatically banned from doing any certified nurse assistant (CNA) training for two years. The Nursing Home Workforce Quality Act, introduced on September 28 by Rep. Sean Duffy — a Wisconsin Republican — would modify the CNA training lockout, which was required by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987.

The legislation introduced by Duffy would allow the surveyor to decide whether to lift the two-year training ban after the SNF fixes whatever issue caused it to receive a CMP, according to Nate Glendening, the administrator of Prairie Wind Villa Assisted Living/Phillips County Retirement Center in Phillipsburg, Kan.

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“I can tell you at our facility, in our experience, we were under the lockout until September 16, just last month,” Glendening told Skilled Nursing News.

The facility where Glendening serves as an administrator has an assisted living unit with 22 beds and a skilled nursing facility with 50 beds; it received a citation for a failure to update its door codes after one resident was able to leave the building. Though nothing happened to the resident, the incident was considered “an elopement,” and Prairie Wind was banned from CNA training for two years, Glendening said.

As of late last year, 90% of Kansas nursing homes were under the CNA training ban; 35% to 50% of nursing homes in the state are under the ban at present, he added.

For rural facilities such as Prairie Wind — which is located in a town of 2,500 — CNAs are a major part of the workforce. Between both the Prairie Wind assisted living facility and the retirement center, there are roughly 65 staff members, 20 0f which are CNAs.

The training is one of the key ways the facility has filled its staffing ranks, according to Glendening. He estimated that probably 85% of the CNAs at Prairie Wind came from the training program offered on site. Given the shortage of workers, if aspiring long-term care workers in Phillipsburg went elsewhere for CNA training, they were likely to get job offers there, he added.

And given the overarching difficulty of keeping young workers in small rural towns, he’s excited about what the legislation could mean for SNFs.

“[The training ban] is so punitive, and it doesn’t do anything for your direct care,” he said. “We’ve been paying overtime, and we’ve been dealing with burned-out staff going on for two years. It just blatantly makes sense for a facility to be able to provide this training.”

Written by Maggie Flynn

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