Nelson re-files nursing home minimum standards bill

Published 10:27 am Friday, July 20, 2018

FRANKFORT — Rep. Rick Nelson is retiring from the Kentucky General Assembly after his term ends this year. But he isn’t leaving before making one last effort to improve nursing home standards in the state.

The nine-term state lawmaker today re-filed legislation he sponsored during the 2018 session that would have required nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to meet minimum staffing rules. He hopes that bill, known last session as House Bill 573, will find a new sponsor before Nelson exits the House in December.

“Last year, nursing homes got some relief from legislation establishing medical review panels which will save them a tremendous amount of money,” Nelson said. That was followed this year by corporate tax breaks approved by Congress.

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“I think it’s time they invested some of that money into staff,” he said. “The staff who are in nursing homes now do a good job. There are just not enough of them to adequately care for the number of patients they have. This legislation will help everyone.”

Minimum staff-to-resident ratios would be required under the legislation for licensure or re-licensure, Nelson said. Ratios of one nurse aide to every nine residents at all times during the day and one nurse per 21 residents at all times during the day would be among the requirements.

Additionally, facilities with 75 or more beds would be required to have a registered nurse supervisor during day and evening shifts, in addition to the other required staff. Larger facilities would carry more requirements, including the need for a full-time assistant nursing director and education director.

Facilities that do not comply with the minimum staffing requirements for two consecutive days would be prohibited from accepting new patients until they have complied for six consecutive days, according to the bill. Fines of up to $1,000 per day could also be assessed against the facility.

Exceptions to the staffing requirements may be allowed due to weather emergencies or other unplanned events out of the facility’s control.

To ensure that minimum staffing requirements are met and reviewed, a 17-member Long-Term Care Minimum Staffing Committee would be established under HB 573 “to review staffing requirements … on an annual basis.”

State Rep. Rick Nelson represents the 87th House Districts which includes Bell County and part of Harlan County.