May 11, 2023 Washington, DC – Statement from Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services including nursing homes, on the introduction of the Ensuring Seniors’ Access to Quality Care Act in the House of Representatives, by Congressmen Ron Estes (R-KS) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA):
“Certified nurse aides (CNAs) are essential members of every nursing home’s care team, and we desperately need more of them. LeadingAge and our nonprofit mission-driven members support every opportunity to recruit and train new CNAs. This legislation will do just that by helping to alleviate a longstanding barrier to training and by ensuring the availability of onsite programs to build potential employees’ knowledge and skills,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO, LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services. “These training programs provide a solid educational foundation as well as hands-on experience working with residents and staff; they are truly a win-win. We thank Representatives Estes and Connolly and remain eager to work with them and their Senate colleagues to see this bill passed into law.”
Research from PHI shows from 2020 to 2021 alone, the nursing assistant workforce lost 56,320 jobs — the largest single-year decline in the past decade. At the same time that the aging services workforce is shrinking, the population of adults age 65 and older in the U.S. is projected to nearly double, from 49.2 million in 2016 to 94.7 in 2060.
The legislation modifies the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training lock-out mandated by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA). It eliminates the statute’s rigid provisions and grants CMS greater flexibility in reinstating providers’ valuable CNA training programs.
Currently, nursing homes assessed civil monetary penalties above a certain level on their annual survey automatically lose their authority to train staff to be CNAs for two years. The suspension is required even if the fines are unrelated to the quality of care given to residents or if the care deficiencies cited on the survey are unrelated to the nursing home’s CNA training program. If passed, today’s bill will allow providers that have demonstrated their return to compliance to re-start training programs rather than having to sit out a full two years.
“Our seniors deserve our respect, and even more so, our commitment to their well-being. The CNA lock-out has proven to be an ineffective policy with the unintended consequences of denying seniors the consistent and compassionate care they so deserve. It is well known that the labor crisis affecting senior care is compounded by the lack of established programs to train those individuals interested in a helping profession. Eliminating the CNA lockout is one significant step to bring care and compassion to our seniors. I am grateful for Representative Estes standing with the seniors of Kansas to support the elimination of this damaging policy,” said Karen Sturchio, CEO, Kansas Christian Home, Newton, KS.
“As a rural, stand-alone long term care provider I appreciate the re-introduction of the Ensuring Seniors Access to Quality Care Act; specifically the CNA training lockout portion. Being able to train CNAs in our building not only introduces new people to our line of work, it allows them to understand how rewarding the work can be. In a rural setting, on-site training is even more critical. Nearly 50% of CNAs on our staff were trained in-house; if this training isn’t available we do not have the capability to care for vulnerable Kansans,” said Nate Glendening, Administrator, Prairie Wind Villa Assisted Living and Phillips County Retirement Center, Phillipsburg, KS.
“The long-term care workforce shortage in our country is very real, and it is causing painful access to care issues for seniors and their families. If we want older adults to keep receiving the care they need, we have to reform outdated federal laws that stop us from training new workers. We are grateful that Congressman Estes is standing up for Kansas, and putting forth actual solutions to invest in care for our seniors. This legislation cannot pass soon enough,” said Rachel Monger, President and CEO, LeadingAge Kansas.
“The dedication and compassion of CNAs are crucial in ensuring that older Americans receive the best possible care and quality of life. Part of our role is to provide training and essential services so they can continue to provide daily care, comfort, and compassion,” said Dana Parsons, Vice President and Legislative Counsel, LeadingAge Virginia.
“CNAs are the backbone of caring for older Americans, providing essential services that allow seniors to live with dignity and independence. It is necessary for them to continue to have the hands-on training they need as they are the heart of long-term care,” said Josh Bagley, Executive Director, The View Alexandria by Goodwin Living, Alexandria, VA.