LeadingAge Calls Out White House on Nursing Home Rhetoric

By Jim Nelson | May 3, 2024

In response to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ recent release of the final minimum staffing rule for nursing homes, LeadingAge President/CEO Katie Smith Sloan has written a letter to President Biden emphasizing the importance of partnering with providers to succeed in bringing more registered nurses and nurse aides to long-term care.

In her letter, Sloan pointed to what she called the administration’s “mischaracterization of nursing home providers and repeated incendiary descriptions of care delivered in nursing homes.”

Sloan called it “troubling” in her letter that the White House has returned to its messaging from February 2022  in the final rule’s “Fact Sheet,” messaging that says all nursing homes are bad and framing “the sector as harmful to older adults and in need of a crackdown.” Of the recent nursing home care workers roundtable in La Crosse, Wisconsin, during which Vice President Kamala Harris broadly characterized nursing homes as neglectful and suggested widespread disregard by nursing-home management for its staff, Sloan commented, “For the vice president to suggest that both are regular occurrences in nursing homes is grossly misleading.”

“To be clear: bad actors must be stopped — and, as you know, nursing homes must follow federal and state requirements to protect residents’ health and safety and to ensure the proper use of funds derived from taxpayer dollars; surely, federal and state regulators and inspectors would not allow rampant managerial misdeeds and harm throughout the sector,” Sloan wrote in her letter. Sloan went on to point out more than a third of nursing homes are the highest performers based on “scores derived from the government’s own measures.” America’s 15,000 nursing homes are not all the same, she wrote.

“Our members take seriously their responsibility to residents, families, the broader community — as well as to state and federal regulators,” Sloan added, noting that LeadingAge has repeatedly expressed that it shares the president’s goal to ensure that older adults and families can receive quality care in nursing homes. “We know,” Sloan said, “as you do, that quality care and staffing are tightly connected.”

“This is no time to mislead the public and discourage potential employees from joining our ranks,” Sloan continued. “…your administration’s inaccurate framing of all providers and our sector threatens to undermine efforts — including the $75 million recruitment campaign promised by CMS to encourage more nurses to work in nursing homes — to achieve the shared goal of bringing new staff to the field.”

In closing, Sloan urged President Biden to change course: “Rather than disparage us, partner with us. Visit our communities … witness, first-hand, the innovations they’ve developed to navigate their workforce challenges. Hear what needs to be done to solve them. There’s much to be done. Let’s work together to build a stronger and enticing pathway to aging services for nurses and nursing assistants.”

LeadingAge represents more than 5,400 nonprofit and mission-driven aging services providers and other organizations that touch millions of lives every day. It has members and 36 partners in 41 states, and its membership encompasses the entire continuum of aging services, including skilled nursing, assisted living, memory care, affordable housing, retirement communities, adult day programs, community-based services, hospice, and home-based care.



Jim Nelson

Jim Nelson is the Editor at Senior Living News, an online trade publication featuring curated news and exclusive feature stories on changes, trends, and thought leaders in the senior living industry. He has been a writer and editor for 30+ years, including several years as an editor and managing editor. Jim covers the senior living sector for SeniorLivingNews.com, distributes its e-newsletter, and moderates panel discussions for the company’s HEALTHTAC events.

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