The House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee voted Wednesday to pass along to Congress a bill that would block the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ proposed minimum staffing mandate for nursing homes.

Skilled nursing facilities would have at least three years to provide a minimum of 3.0 hours per patient day of direct care under the proposed staffing mandate. 

“The committee took action to stop the Biden administration from imposing new red tape on nursing homes,” according to a press release from the committee. 

Ways and Means Committee Chair Rep Jason Smith (R-MO) said in opening remarks of a mark-up hearing that the staffing mandate would force nursing homes around the country to downsize or close. 

“Not only does this rule gut nursing homes across the country, but it’s also setting them up to fail,” Smith said, adding that “190,000 nursing home employees have left the industry since the pandemic. If this rule were implemented today, 94%of nursing homes would not be compliant.”

Forty-five percent of SNF participants in the American Health Care Association’s recent State of the Sector Report said that they are “either operating in the red or barely breaking even.” The survey found that despite providers’ best efforts, staffing shortages are a real concern, especially as post-acute care providers await finalization of the CMS mandate.

“Nursing homes aren’t suffering from a lack of mandates,” Smith said in his remarks Wednesday. “They’re facing a lack of nurses and certified nurse assistants. This rule would only make things worse for our seniors and the workers who support them.”

The nation’s two largest long-term care provider associations and more than 1,100 cosigners have expressed support for a measure to block the proposed nursing home staffing mandate.

Providers largely have been unified in their opposition to the staffing mandate since its announcement this past fall, regularly citing concerns of increased labor costs with little to no additional funding assistance and a “one-size-fits-all” approach that could disproportionately affect rural facilities.

Argentum, LeadingAge, the National Center for Assisted Living and other industry advocacy organizations also have expressed concerns that the mandate would affect other providers on the long-term care continuum, because assisted living and other providers must compete with nursing homes for some of the same workers.