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Lankford Fights to Protect Rural Nursing Homes from Biden Admin Overreach

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) introduced a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution of disapproval to overturn the final rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that imposes burdensome federal staffing mandates on long-term care facilities and will force many rural nursing homes to shut their doors. Lankford was outspoken against the Biden Administration’s rule when it was finalized earlier this year.

“Oklahomans shouldn’t lose access to health care because of overly broad and unrealistic rules from Washington, DC. The Biden Administration’s staffing requirements won’t fix workforce shortage problems or solve care quality problems, but they will make it even harder for seniors in rural areas to get care in their own communities. Our seniors deserve high-quality care, not more DC mandates. I am leading the fight to stop Biden’s one-size-fits-all requirements, which he knows will close rural nursing homes across Oklahoma,” said Lankford. 

Lankford is joined by Senators Joe Manchin (I-WV), Mike Braun (R-IN), Jim Risch (R-ID), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Katie Britt (R-AL), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Jon Tester (D-MT), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), John Boozman (R-AR), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Susan Collins (R-ME), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), John Barrasso (R-WY), John Thune (R-SD), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Mike Lee (R-UT), John Hoeven (R-ND), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) to introduce the resolution of disapproval.

This resolution is also supported by LeadingAge, Care Providers Oklahoma, and American Health Care Association (AHCA).

“LeadingAge and our nonprofit and mission-driven members–many of whom have served their communities for decades and even centuries–share the goal of ensuring quality care,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO, LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services, including nursing homes. “Mandates, as we’ve said repeatedly to Congress, to the Administration and to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), are not the right approach to achieving it. We need real policy solutions and investments, not mandates. As part of our aggressive, multi-faceted approach, drawing on every available tool –legislative, legal, and regulatory–to both address the fundamental issue of building the long-term care workforce and halt the regulation’s implementation, we support the CRA resolution’s introduction in the Senate. We thank Senators Lankford and Manchin for their leadership on it.”

“Our facilities want to hire more staff. That staff does not exist in Oklahoma right now. We don’t have enough skilled workers to take these jobs. Sen. Lankford recognizes that reality and how absurd it is to will these workers into existence with mandates and punitive fines. If this law is intended to help vulnerable seniors, it is absolutely going to have the opposite effect. It is going to put homes out of business, displace some our most vulnerable residents and leave them without access to care. Our Legislature just appropriated $30 million to help get our profession into a financially viable position and shore up resources and infrastructure for elderly Oklahomans and people with intellectual disabilities. This mandate erases that good work and puts our funding back at crisis level,” said Steven Buck, president and CEO of Care Providers Oklahoma.

“We applaud the introduction of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution against the Administration’s staffing mandate in the US Senate and appreciate the support and leadership of Senators Lankford and Manchin. Whether through legislation or direct outreach to the Administration, the concern that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have shown demonstrates that this outrageous and unrealistic rule must be overturned. This impossible mandate threatens access to care for seniors across the country, and we urge members of Congress to take action. Let’s work together on more meaningful ways to boost our nursing home workforce and improve quality care,” said Cliff Porter, Senior Vice President of Government Relations, American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living.

Lankford and 27 of his Senate colleagues sent a letter to CMS last year when this rule was first proposed, urging the Administration to rescind the rule. The Senators wrote, “We understand the importance of ensuring beneficiaries of federal health care programs have access to safe and high-quality nursing care. In fact, we share your intended goal of improving the quality of care for seniors. However, a one-size-fits-all staffing mandate significantly undermines access to care for patients, particularly in rural communities. Instead, CMS should work with Congress and stakeholders on policy alternatives that address the severe workforce challenges in our states’ underserved areas.”

Lankford remains a strong advocate for addressing health care access deficiencies in rural Oklahoma and around the nation. He introduced the Rural Hospital Closure Relief Act, which would support financially vulnerable rural hospitals facing risk of closure, and he announced a huge win for rural hospital access in Oklahoma and around the nation after CMS announced its Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) rule. The rule, among other things, redefined a “primary” road for purposes of establishing the distance a hospital must be from another hospital to receive CMS’ Critical Access Hospital (CAH) designation, making it easier for some Oklahoma rural hospitals to stay open.