By the Office of U.S. Senator for Kansas Roger Marshall
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS), alongside a group of bipartisan Senators, introduced the Protecting Rural Seniors Access to Care Act, legislation that would prevent the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from finalizing a proposed rule that will harm nursing homes and patients across rural America.
The bill is supported by over 90 national and state organizations including LeadingAge Kansas, the Kansas Hospital Association, and the Kansas Health Care Association/Kansas Center for Assisted Living. The rule would impact 316 nursing facilities and long-term care units in Kansas.
“Imposing a one-size-fits-all staffing mandate on nursing homes will have costly and devastating impacts on Kansas seniors’ access to care,” Senator Marshall said. “The pandemic, compounded with reimbursement challenges and staffing shortages, has led to the closure or reduced services in nearly 50 nursing homes across Kansas. The importance of having access to local long-term quality care facilities for seniors cannot be understated. Kansas seniors should be able to live and age comfortably in a local community where they can stay connected to their families. This unachievable rule further highlights the Biden Administration’s continued disregard for rural America. I’m proud to champion this important bipartisan legislation.”
“The new staffing mandate issued by CMS will devastate rural nursing homes in Kansas, at a time when we are already struggling to maintain services in our communities. The one-size-fits-all approach by the federal government will force our nursing homes to greatly limit the number of seniors they serve or close their doors altogether,” Rachel Monger, President of LeadingAge Kansas said. “By introducing the Protecting Rural Seniors Access to Care Act, Dr. Marshall is once again proving his commitment to finding real, workable solutions to the health care workforce crisis in Kansas. We thank Sen. Marshall for standing up for our rural nursing homes and the many thousands of seniors who need access to long term care in Kansas.”
“Kansas Hospital Association members appreciate Senator Marshall’s recognition of the negative impact minimum staffing standards would have on the health care landscape during a time when the industry is facing workforce challenges,” Chad Austin, President and CEO, Kansas Hospital Association said.
In addition to Senator Marshall, other Senators co-leading the bill include Deb Fischer (R-NE), Jon Tester (D-MT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), James Lankford (R-OK), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Angus King (D-ME).
In September, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule requiring minimum staffing standards for long-term care facilities. The rule was issued despite the fact that a report commissioned by CMS itself expressed reservations about this rule and does not take into account longstanding staffing shortages and retention issues faced by nursing homes. Later that month, Senator Marshall signed on a letter to CMS urging the agency to rescind the rule and instead commit to working with Congress on bipartisan solutions to ensure the quality and safety of care in skilled nursing facilities.
The Protecting Rural Seniors Access to Care Act (S. 3410) would prevent the rule from going into effect by requiring HHS to demonstrate the rule would not result in the closure of skilled nursing facilities, would not harm patient access, and would not make workforce shortage issues worse in areas that are already struggling. The legislation would also establish an advisory panel on nursing home staffing that includes voices from both urban and rural communities. The panel would submit a report to Congress that analyzes workforce shortages and makes practical recommendations to strengthen the workforce.
Senator Marshall is also leading efforts to address the root causes faced by nursing homes including building a robust nurse workforce. Recently, the Senate HELP Committee passed Senator Marshall’s historic primary care and workforce legislation that would substantially increase the number of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, dentists, and other clinicians through existing programs including Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education Program, Nurse Corps, National Health Service Corps, and more.
The bill is companion to legislation led in the House by U.S. Representatives Michelle Fischbach (R-MN) and Greg Pence (R-IN).