NURSING HOMES: Clinton Offers $1B Bill to Boost Staffing
On the heels of a HCFA report stating that more than half of the nation's 17,000 nursing homes lack staffing levels high enough to provide patients quality care, President Clinton on Saturday proposed a $1 billion, five-year nursing home reform package to improve staffing levels and patient care, the Washington Post reports. While nursing home industry officials have acknowledged that low staffing levels are a problem and have promised to boost them in the next two years, they have had difficulty attracting employees because of the job's low pay and physical demands. Clinton's proposal would give grants to states where staffing levels are the lowest that would allow nursing homes to boost staffing levels and training programs. Clinton said, "Too many of our seniors and Americans with disabilities, in too many of those homes, are not getting the proper attention they deserve. Older Americans who have worked hard all their lives deserve respect, not neglect." Clinton's proposal also calls for fines to be imposed more quickly on nursing homes that have endangered residents' safety (Cooper, 9/17). Nursing homes now can avoid payment fines "for years" while they appeal them, but Clinton said that his proposal would require nursing facilities to pay the fines up front and then receive reimbursement if their appeals succeed (Pear, New York Times, 9/17). Clinton said he would send the legislation to Congress this week, hoping to get the bill passed before its October adjournment. Congress also is considering increasing funding for nursing homes, Senate Special Committee on Aging Chair Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said. Grassley said of Clinton's proposal, "We might share goals and priorities for improving the number of trained staff who care for nursing home residents" (Washington Post, 9/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.