A two-year lockout on certified nursing assistant training programs in skilled nursing facilities with deficiencies would be lifted under certain conditions if the bipartisan Ensuring Seniors’ Access to Quality Care Act, reintroduced last week by US Reps. Ron Estes (R-KS) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA), becomes law.

The legislation has the support of the country’s two largest associations representing nursing home providers.

“With this legislation, we can help our nation’s seniors receive high-quality care delivered by highly trained and dedicated caregivers,” American Health Care Association President and CEO Mark Parkinson said in a statement, noting that “nursing homes have experienced the worst job loss out of any healthcare sector during the pandemic.”

As mandated by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987, in-house CNA certification programs currently are suspended for two years for nursing homes that receive a threshold number of penalties for quality deficiencies. Since its passage, the lockout provision has confounded providers as being counterintuitive for those who have typically exhibited a demonstrable need for more staff training, not less, as McKnight’s previously reported.

The Ensuring Seniors’ Access to Quality Care Act would allow a training program to be reinstated if:

  • The facility has corrected the deficiency for which it was fined;
  • That deficiency had not put residents or patients at immediate risk and was not caused by abuse or neglect;
  • The provider had not been cited again for a deficiency related to direct resident or patient harm in the two previous years.

The training programs, LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said in a statement, “provide a solid educational foundation as well as hands-on experience working with residents and staff; they are truly a win-win.”

“LeadingAge and our nonprofit mission-driven members support every opportunity to recruit and train new CNAs,” Sloan said. “This legislation will do just that by helping to alleviate a longstanding barrier to training and by ensuring the availability of onsite programs to build potential employees’ knowledge and skills.”