Amended nursing home staffing bill advances

Politics

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Legislation that would create minimum staffing requirements in nursing homes is one step closer to becoming law.

The controversial battle over staffing minimums has been going on for over a year a now, with the leaders of employee unions and nursing homes butting heads over the legislation.

The R.I. House Finance Committee heard testimony on the bill back in March, and on Thursday lawmakers voted 12-to-2 in favor of advancing the House’s version of the nursing home staff bill, which differs from the one put forth by the Senate.

“It mandates minimum staffing levels at nursing homes, provides a grant program for enhanced training for staff, provides a three-year base rate adjustment for nursing homes, and provides for wage increases for direct care workers subject to the rate of inflation,” Rep. Marvin Abney said.

The amended bill pushes back the staffing mandate from July 1, 2021 to January 1, 2022.

It also mandates 3.58 hours of direct nursing per resident per day to start, which then increases to 3.81 hours in January 2023. That’s opposed to the 4.1 hours mandated in the Senate’s version.

Another change is compliance will be determined quarterly, instead of daily or weekly.

The House version passed Thursday evening includes wage increases for direct care workers, but at levels lower than the Senate version of the bill.

It also expands the definition of direct care workers to include occupational and physical therapists, speech language pathologists and mental health workers who are certified nursing assistants (CNA).

The bill will now head to the House floor for debate, discussion and a vote.

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