Statement from LeadingAge CEO Katie Smith Sloan on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Study of Challenges Facing Nursing Homes

PRESS RELEASE | April 06, 2022

“This report is a piercing wake-up call for policymakers. Decades of underfunding have left America’s nursing home system in desperate need of an overhaul. As our nation grows rapidly older, millions of older Americans will need safe, high-quality care. It’s time to act to ensure they can access and afford the vital care nursing homes provide.”

Contact: Lisa Sanders lsanders@leadingage.org 202-508-9407

April 6, 2022 Washington, DC - Statement from Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO, LeadingAge — the association of nonprofit providers of aging services, including nursing homes — on the first comprehensive study of the challenges facing nursing homes in the United States in 35 years, released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.  

“This report is a piercing wake-up call for policymakers. Decades of underfunding have left America’s nursing home system in desperate need of an overhaul. As our nation grows rapidly older, millions of older Americans will need safe, high-quality care. It’s time to act to ensure they can access and afford the vital care nursing homes provide.

“How our nation supports the system that cares for older adults is a reflection of our values. At the end of the day, this is about equity—in access, in quality and in professionalizing our direct care workforce.

“Not all nursing homes are the same. Nonprofit and mission-driven nursing homes prioritize serving older adults in their communities above the bottom line, every day—and have been doing that throughout the past two years of unprecedented challenges wrought by COVID. But as the commission notes, our country’s system of financing, oversight and support for nursing homes is ‘ineffective, inefficient, fragmented, and unsustainable.’ 

"The math is simple: Medicaid, the dominant payer of long-term care services, doesn’t fully cover nursing homes’ costs, especially the cost of providing quality care. As policymakers consider how to enact the report’s recommendations, they must back their actions with sufficient funding to make changes a reality. Without that, the committee’s work will be for naught.  

“Transforming aging services in America must begin by addressing a staffing crisis that is leaving a growing number of older Americans and their families without much-needed care. That means boosting compensation and training for workers, allowing foreign nursing staff to help long-term care communities, expanding the pipeline of applicants with training and apprenticeship programs, and addressing price gouging by temporary staffing agencies. 

“Accountability of nursing homes must be strengthened with implementation of evidence-based oversight. Our country needs an effective regulatory system; that’s achievable, if we harness the science of quality improvement, supporting and rewarding high-quality care.

“We are pleased to see the in-depth work of the committee come to fruition in this report. LeadingAge looks forward to working with our leaders to ensure that nursing homes and all aging services providers can provide the high quality care our nation’s older adults need to live with dignity and respect.”

About LeadingAge:

We represent more than 5,000 nonprofit aging services providers and other mission-minded organizations that touch millions of lives every day. Alongside our members and 38 state partners, we use applied research, advocacy, education, and community-building to make America a better place to grow old. Our membership, which now includes the providers of the Visiting Nurse Associations of America, encompasses the continuum of services for people as they age, including those with disabilities. We bring together the most inventive minds in the field to lead and innovate solutions that support older adults wherever they call home. For more information visit leadingage.org.