Every few days while the Virginia General Assembly is in Session, I check up on my elected officials to see what exciting new laws have been passed. Generally, I am not in favor of greater governmental control that often comes as a result of the “purse strings”… but there are a few exceptions. I don’t know who Vivian Watts is, but I commend the Delegate for her HB 2607 which would have required nursing homes to establish staffing standards, and record the hours of direct care provided by nursing home staff. The bill can be found on the Gen. Assembly’s website:
http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?071+sum+HB2607. In her impact statement, the Delegate writes the law is necessary because “DMAS calculates that approximately 85% of nursing homes will have to add a total of 6.8 million nursing hours by 2012, a 23% increase over the total nursing hours currently provided nursing home residents statewide, to meet the staffing standards. Since Medicaid pays for approximately 65% of nursing home days, Medicaid would incur costs related to approximately 4.7 million additional nursing hours. The average cost in 2005 for each additional nursing hour worked was $17.70. The staffing cost was adjusted 5% annually for inflation. Based on these assumptions, this legislation will result in $126,176,664 million in additional costs for nursing facilities in FY 2013, a 12% increase in total nursing facility expenditures. Medicaid expenditures would increase as facilities attempt to increase their staffing.” http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?071+oth+HB2607F122+PDF
I have some other ideas of why the law is a great idea:
1. Requirement to hire more. (No longer can the excuse be, it was a weekend and everyone was off).
2. Accountability. (Don’t hire – don’t provide required care, you don’t get paid and lose your license).
3. Standards. We have clients ask all the time, “they have to have 1 nurse for every few residents, don’t they?” But for the need to have one RN on grounds at all times, the answer is basically no.
4. Helps the nursing staff. (Ask someone who provides care in a nursing home if the home is understaffed – I am quite confident they will say yes.)
So what happened to this great bill that Delegate Watts proposed?
Tabled, which is a nice word for ignored – and not sent to the Senate.
So what now? If the “tabling” of this law bothers you, do something about it. Contact one of the members of the Health, Welfare & Institutions Commitee, and express your disappointment. Need some help – well here is a link to all the Committee members. http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?071+com+H12. Let me know what happens, I am waiting!