Nursing Homes Continue Providing Quality Care Despite Workforce Crisis and Flat Reimbursements

Over the last 7 years since the founding of American Senior Alliance, we have worked diligently in state capitols to ensure older Americans have affordable quality care. 

Over the last 7 years since the founding of American Senior Alliance, we have worked diligently in state capitols to ensure older Americans have affordable quality care.   As we move from state to state, we see firsthand the troubling staffing challenges long-term care operators continue to experience. This is truly alarming for residents and families.  Something needs to be done to address this problem.

Nursing homes are fighting to survive the brutal COVID-19 costs, chronic Medicaid underfunding, a dreadful labor crisis, declining revenue, and runaway inflation where the cost of goods has skyrocketed. Our concern is at some point this affects the quality of care that we expect out of those providing care to our vulnerable population.

According to a survey published in McKnight's Senior Living, Minnesota is facing a collapse in its senior care system.  The staffing numbers are staggering for the gopher state.  Due primarily to the lack of staffing, 54% of the providers have reduced capacity and another 6% have plans to reduce capacity in the future.  Anytime nursing homes have fewer beds it reduces access to care for vulnerable seniors requiring them to extend their stay in hospitals longer than planned. Just in Minnesota alone, there have been 106 nursing homes that have had to close their doors since the year 2000.  This further reduces older adults’ access to care near close friends and relatives.

When a skilled nursing center is forced to close, it has a major impact on communities, families, residents, and staff. When the closure occurs, the residents are sometimes separated from loved ones and their community.  What makes it stressful, is the risk that the resident will not be able to receive the same quality care they were receiving.

Like many states, Pennsylvania providers were hit hard by higher labor costs and flat reimbursement causing 17 of their nursing homes to close since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  They are taking a proactive role in trying to address the challenge.  The Pennsylvania legislature passed Senate Resolution 288  which authorizes the Joint State Government Commission to research the impact of the pandemic on long-term care facilities’ staffing needs. According to a survey by the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, 75% of the state’s nursing homes are operating in the red due to temporary staffing and inflationary labor.

Nursing homes have stepped up with every ounce of effort they can muster to survive.  According to the American Health Care Association,  nursing homes have increased wages more than any other industry to the tune of 9.5% in 2020 and 6.3% in 2021.  Even with the increases, staffing levels are close to a 30-year low.  Overall, 98% of nursing home facilities struggle to find talent due to a waning prospective employee interest or lack of qualifications.  

The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on our older Americans and we must find a way to take action to prevent any more suffering by the residents and families.  Our legislative leaders must focus on bold ideas and decisions to fix the workforce crisis before it is too late.  Vulnerable senior citizens across the country are counting on you!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               


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