February 20,2002

Grassley on Improving Nursing Home Staffing

Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Committee on Finance, has a long history ofworking to improve the government’s oversight of the nation’s nursing homes. In 2000, as chairmanof the Special Committee on Aging, he secured the release of the first part of a nursing home staffingstudy, with an original due date of Jan. 1, 1992. The study’s first part linked low staffing levels topoor care for nursing home residents. The study’s second part is nearing completion; a draft was thesubject of a New York Times story this week. Grassley made the following comment on the secondpart of the staffing study.

“The draft study validates what too many families already know: The link between lowstaffing levels and poor care is staring us in the face. We can’t look away. But I’m not convincedmore money for the nursing home industry is the solution. The nursing home industry receives $38billion a year from the federal government and additional billions of dollars from the states to carefor 1.5 million nursing home residents. Is that enough money to get the job done? Is that enoughmoney for nursing homes to hire enough staff to give good care? Are mandatory staffing levelsnecessary? These are complex questions, and we need answers to these questions before we moveforward. It’s important not to over-simplify with a one--fits-all solution. Some nursing homesmake things work under the current system and some don’t. If we don’t look before we leap, wemight do more damage than good.”