The nation’s largest nursing home association is sounding the alarm on President Biden’s social spending package, saying it could have a "devastating impact" and force thousands of long-term care facilities to limit admissions or close their doors.
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), which represents over 14,000 facilities housing millions of elderly individuals, said long-felt labor shortages in the industry will be exacerbated by two measures included in the Build Back Better plan.
One provision would require a registered nurse (RN) to be on hand 24 hours a day – a policy that officials say they have advocated for but need assistance to accomplish.
"We strongly support having an RN on staff in nursing homes 24-hours a day, as we originally proposed in our reform agenda earlier this year," AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson said in a statement provided to Fox News. "However, current data shows that the nursing homes are facing the worst job loss among all health care providers."
"We’ve lost 221,000 jobs since the beginning of the pandemic, and recovery is a long way away," he added.
Nursing homes are required to have an RN on staff for at least eight hours a day, but increasing that requirement threefold would mean hiring 21,000 more registered nurses – an estimated cost of $2.5 billion a year.
The social spending package would also require nursing homes to accommodate regulation changes based on staffing ratio surveys conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services within a one-year time frame.
Parkinson said these changes mean the nursing homes he represents would need to hire at least 150,000 new caregivers and it could cost the facilities billions of dollars annually.
"Nursing home providers are doing all they can to attract and retain new workers, but the applicants simply aren’t there," Parkinson said. "The provisions in this bill do nothing to help us strengthen our workforce and will only force thousands of nursing homes to further limit the number of residents they can serve."
As it stands now, the social spending plan would require the nursing home industry to increase its staffing by 25% by bringing on RNs, licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants – a hiring spree that will cost nearly $11 billion each year.
Officials worry these requirements would alter how nursing homes are allowed to function to the degree that they would prompt facility closures or greatly limit the number of elderly individuals accepted into homes.
The White House did not immediately return FOX Business’ request for comment.