Pennsylvania Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) Approves New Regulations to Address Short Staffing, Change of Ownership, and Systemic Failures and Abuses By the Industry
For Immediate Release: October 28, 2022
(Harrisburg, PA) – Nursing home workers celebrated the passage of new and comprehensive state regulations aimed at holding the long term care industry accountable and ending decades of short-staffing and irresponsible ownership. These regulations will ensure a higher-quality nursing home system that improves conditions for caregivers, residents and families.
The Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) has approved the first comprehensive update to Pennsylvania’s long-term care regulations in 25 years. The regulations will now go to the Attorney General’s office for review and will be issued in January 2023. Crucially, these regulations achieve two long standing goals of caregivers across Pennsylvania: For the first time, facilities will be subject to mandatory caregiver-to-resident ratios. And for the first time, those seeking to purchase nursing homes in Pennsylvania will be required to undergo a transparent, public application process with opportunities for residents, caregivers and elder advocates to weigh in.
Matt Yarnell, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, testified to the IRRC today: “Our union commends the Department of Health and the Wolf Administration for moving these regulations forward and the General Assembly for enacting a historic and sustained investment and funding reform to bedside care. These regulations, especially the long-needed updates to staffing ratios and the change of ownership process, will transform this industry, which is crucial to caring for our state’s aging population.”
“These regulations represent decades of persistent activism by healthcare workers and member leaders who fought for and demanded accountability. This historic moment simply would not have happened if not for our union and our steadfast commitment to improve quality resident care and standing up for our essential workforce,” said Karen Hipple, LPN, in Oil City.
With respect to higher staffing levels, starting in July 1, 2023, new rules stipulate that for LPNs:
- Day Shift: 1 LPN per 25 residents
- Evening Shift: 1 LPN per 30 residents
- Night Shift: 1 LPN per 40 residents
For CNAs new staffing levels starting on July 1, 2023 will be:
- Day Shift: 1 CNA per 12 residents
- Evening Shift: 1 CNA per 12 residents
- Night Shift: 1 CNA per 20 residents
But effective July 1, 2024, the staffing levels for CNAs improve to:
- Day Shift: 1 CNA per 10 residents
- Evening Shift: 1 CNA per 11 residents
- Night Shift 1 CNA per 15 residents
“Finally winning safe staffing regulations on the Pennsylvania nursing home industry is a profound victory for workers and will dramatically improve resident care,” said Shelley Robinson, a CNA in Rose City Lancaster. “Our catastrophic short-staffing crisis threatened to hollow out our entire nursing home workforce. By enacting new staffing regulations our member leaders stopped the long term care system from collapsing. These new staffing requirements came just at the right time.”
Key reforms to the state’s change of ownership rules around nursing home sales will go into effect as soon as February 2023.The new regulatory package significantly expands the state’s Department of Health’s (DOH) authority to ensure responsible ownership. The regulations require a public notice process so that all stakeholders–ombudsman, caregivers, residents and their families–can weigh in on facilities being sold or restructured and must account for the impact on the local community.
“When it comes to new change of ownership regulations, the nursing home industry finally realizes the true power of our workforce and the changes we are willing to fight for. No longer can the industry get away with ripping up union contracts, sell or offload their businesses or assets to break our union, pay lower wages to workers, or avoid their fiscal responsibility simply because they sell their businesses or to make a profit. The nursing home industry cannot continue business as usual, and they know it,” said Rebecca Burgess, a CNA at Twin Lakes nursing home.
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania is the state’s largest and fastest-growing union of nurses and healthcare workers, uniting tens of thousands of professional and technical employees, direct care workers, and service employees in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home- and community-based services, and state facilities across the Commonwealth. SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania members are committed to improving the lives of health care workers and ensuring quality care and healthy communities for all Pennsylvanians.