Care Providers Oklahoma recently sounded the alarm on an impending crisis created by the Biden Administration’s approval of a new staffing mandate. The new mandate requires nursing homes to significantly increase the number of nurse aides and registered nurses at each facility, without addressing 1) the financial impact of that new requirement or 2) the reality of an ongoing workforce shortage that has already led multiple facilities in Oklahoma to close.
“For months, the White House has been signaling their plan is to mandate that nursing homes hire staffers that do not exist with money they do not have,” said Care Providers Oklahoma President and CEO Steven Buck. “This is an impossible proposition that has gone from a bad idea to a federal rule with the force of law. We are sounding the alarm that this policy will absolutely lead to closures, displaced residents, and the loss of quality care for elderly and vulnerable populations.”
Care Providers Oklahoma estimates the new rule requires the average facility to hire two to three new registered nurses at a cost approaching $17 per Medicaid resident per day. Total costs associated with new hires for Oklahoma’s nursing homes will be as much as $76 million annually.
Currently, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority already estimates that nursing homes are funded at $44 per Medicaid resident per day under the projected cost-of-care. The Biden staffing mandate expands that funding gap to upwards of $61 per Medicaid resident per day.
“Oklahoma homes have already been closing at a rapid clip because we are not funded at the cost-of-care,” said Buck. “That is going to increase at an even faster rate, especially in rural areas, unless we can get some help.”
See the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s list of recent closures here.
Buck said that Care Providers Oklahoma was taking the following steps to protect its residents:
1. Asking the Oklahoma Legislature to increase funding to a level equal to the OHCA’s projected cost-of-care;
2. Supporting the federal “Protecting Rural Seniors’ Access to Care Act,” a bill that would block implementation of the new mandate;
3. Educating the public on the devastating impact that the Biden mandate would have on Oklahoma’s vulnerable seniors.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has already signed a letter, along with 14 other governors opposing the mandate.
Senator Lankford has also spoken out against the mandate and its impact on rural facilities.