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CT General Assembly Considers Nursing-Home Reforms

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Monday, February 27, 2023   

Connecticut's General Assembly is considering legislation to establish sweeping nursing-home reforms.

Senate Bill 989 would establish minimum nursing-home staffing levels and impose stricter penalties for violations.

This comes as a nursing home in Newtown has been in the spotlight for issues with staffing and resident care. According to the Connecticut Department of Health and Human Services, nursing aides had as many as 20 people to care for on their shifts.

Anna Doroghazi, associate state director for advocacy and outreach at AARP Connecticut, said this bill addresses long-standing issues that were only exacerbated by the pandemic.

"Nationwide, nursing homes lost 210,000 workers since March of 2020," said Doroghazi. "So, this is a problem, both in nursing homes, but across the healthcare sector in general. We really need to make sure we're building a pipeline of workers who want to take on these jobs."

This isn't the first bill to propose minimum staffing levels and other reforms, dating back to 2014.

Though many people voiced support for the current bill at a public hearing, nursing-home owners have been notable detractors. Some say the proposal is too stringent and they won't be able to find enough qualified staff to meet the requirements.

From here, Doroghazi said she feels more accountability is needed within the industry to identify the good and bad performers.

One part of SB 989 would require that nursing homes be transparent in cost reporting. She said she thinks this could help weed out those operators giving the industry a bad name.

"There are some who treat their nursing homes and the residents who live there as investment opportunities, instead of human beings who deserve to live in comfort and dignity," said Doroghazi. "We need to improve financial transparency so that we can better identify and remedy any business practices that allow profits to come before people."

In early 2022, President Joe Biden announced a series of reforms aimed at improving conditions at nursing homes.

One recommendation was to hold poorly performing facilities accountable for unsafe or improper care, and cutting them off from taxpayer dollars if their services don't improve.



Disclosure: AARP Connecticut contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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