The White House has announced plans to increase safety for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is proposing a rule to set a federal floor for staffing levels, so that nursing home owners could not slash staffing to unsafe levels.

If finalized, the proposal would require every facility to have a Registered Nurse on site 24/7, to have a certain minimum number of registered nurses and nurse aides to help provide routine care and to staff according to resident needs based on a thorough assessment of the facility’s residents. To ensure affected nursing homes have ample time to hire necessary staff, CMS is proposing that the minimum staffing requirements go into effect in phases.

To improve nursing home safety in the short-term, CMS is also announcing new efforts to improve enforcement of existing staffing standards, which currently require nursing homes to provide “sufficient” staffing and eight hours per day of Registered Nurse care.

The HHS Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) is also undertaking important oversight of nursing home performance, examining nursing home spending of taxpayer funds, inappropriate prescribing of antipsychotic medications and emergency preparedness planning by facilities.