Care Providers Oklahoma today announced their support of the “Protecting Rural Seniors’ Access to Care Act,” a federal bill that would block implementation of a new staffing mandate proposed by the Biden Administration.

The bill, cosponsored by U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), states: “The Secretary of Health and Human Services may not implement, enforce, or otherwise give effect to the proposed rule entitled ‘Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Minimum Staffing Standards for Long-Term Care Facilities and Medicaid Institutional Payment Transparency Reporting’ published by the Department of Health and Human Services on September 6, 2023 (88 Fed. Reg. 61352–61429), and may not promulgate any substantially similar rule.” Similar language has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the Health and Human Services budget bill.

The rule proposed by the Biden Administration would require specific nursing home staff to spend a minimum number of hours with each resident – 2.45 nurse aide hours per resident per day (HPRD) and 0.55 registered nurse (RN) HPRD – as well as have a 24-hour registered nurse (RN) on site.

Nursing home professionals have argued that the rule ignores the staffing crisis occurring in Oklahoma and across the nation and imposes impossible to meet goals and crippling financial penalties on a field that is already struggling to recruit and adequately compensate qualified staff.

An analysis of the Biden administration mandate by professional services firm CLA CliftonLarsenAllen, LLP (CLA) drew the following conclusions:

  • If implemented, the proposed mandate would require Oklahoma nursing homes to hire an estimated 1,253 additional full-time employees, including 538 nurse aides and 715 RNs.
  • The proposed mandate would cost Oklahoma nursing homes approximately $76 million per year.
  • Over 99 percent of nursing homes are currently not meeting at least one of the three proposed staffing requirements: the 2.45 nurse aide HPRD, the 0.55 RN HPRD, and the 24/7 RN.
  • If nursing homes are unable to increase their workforce to meet these new requirements, more than 5800 nursing home residents could be impacted by census reductions.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has already signed a letter, along with 14 other governors opposing the mandate.

Care Providers Oklahoma President and CEO Steven Buck thanked Oklahoma’s elected officials for opposing the mandate, which he said would be incredibly damaging to senior care in Oklahoma.

“As I have said for months, this mandate makes the federal government seem completely oblivious to the dual threats impacting seniors receiving care in nursing homes: a severe staff shortage coupled with chronic underfunding,” said Buck. “The Biden administration is quite literally demanding that our facilities hire staffers who do not exist with money we do not have. That is a recipe for disaster. My thanks go out to Sen. Lankford, Gov. Stitt and others who have worked to block a policy that will negatively impact senior care in Oklahoma and elsewhere.”

Buck went on to say the mandate would ultimately hurt vulnerable seniors the most.

“We can’t hire the number of staffers this mandate is proposing because they don’t exist,” said Buck. “What facilities can do and will do to avoid new penalties is to reduce the number of seniors they are caring for by ceasing to admit new residents. That means vulnerable seniors will be left without the care they need. That is a terrible outcome for these seniors, and it is why we continue to oppose this unworkable, unwise mandate.”

  • Read the full CLA analysis and the impact of the proposed mandate on each state here.
  • Download a PDF of the Oklahoma-specific analysis here.
  • Download the text of the Protecting Rural Seniors’ Access to Care Act here.
About Care Providers Oklahoma:

Previously the Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers (OAHCP), Care Providers Oklahoma represents the interests of more than 18,000 residents and 19,000 professionals that work in Oklahoma’s long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, assisted living homes and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Care Providers Oklahoma’s mission is to assist its members in providing the highest quality care to the seniors, individuals with disabilities and vulnerable Oklahomans who live in our facilities. We advocate for the enhancement of that care so that Oklahoma long-term care residents may live in the comfort and dignity they deserve. Learn more here.