Pennsylvania Proposes New Nursing Home Regulations

Wolf Administration officials shared proposed nursing home regulations focused on increasing the quality of care received by residents by increasing the minimum direct care hours by 1.4 more hours each day. The current skilled nursing facility regulations have not been updated since 1999.

“Revising nursing home regulations is one piece of the administration’s ongoing effort to improve care for residents and working conditions for staff in nursing homes,” said Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam, during a news conference at Homeland Center in Harrisburg.

The Pennsylvania Health Care Association issued the following statement in response to the Department of Health’s announcement regarding newly-proposed nursing home regulations.

“The Department of Health’s newly-proposed staffing requirement illustrates just how out-of-touch this regulatory agency is regarding the providers, workers and residents they oversee. In our current operating environment, this proposed regulation is an unattainable, unfunded mandate that will cripple an essential component of the long-term care continuum in one of the oldest states, in terms of population, in the entire country.  Additionally, this proposed mandate will cost operators $6 million per week in new wages –– more than $300 million per year –– with no proposed new funding attached”, said Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association.

Beam, who was joined by leaders of four cabinet agencies as well as a nursing home worker and resident, noted this is the first in a series of five packages of proposed regulations that are based on the latest research, input from subject matter experts and industry stakeholders and informed by lessons learned during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“The Wolf Administration is looking at long-term care in a comprehensive manner and we are committed to getting the proposed updated regulations through the regulatory review process by the end of 2022,” added Beam. “Nursing home regulations have not been updated in nearly 25 years. Given the magnitude and importance of the regulations for more than 72,000 nursing home residents and their families, publishing the proposed updates in packages will allow each section the opportunity for appropriate feedback during the public comment period.”

The first package of proposed regulations focuses on adding 1.4 required hours of direct care for residents each day to increasing the minimum standard from 2.7 to 4.1 hours within a 24-hour period.

The package also requires skilled nursing facilities to comply with the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regulations and requirements. This will make the Department of Health’s oversight process more efficient, create consistency and eliminate confusion in the application of standards.