LINTHICUM HEIGHTS, MD., March 2, 2022 – The Green House Project (GHP) on Wednesday announced its support for the Biden administration’s plan to overhaul nursing home care in America, particularly its focus on fostering the development of private rooms while phasing out multiple-occupancy units in long-term care.
Each of the more than 200,000 COVID deaths – and counting – in long-term care since the start of the pandemic is unacceptable. Only through bold action will the U.S. achieve the long-delayed goal of creating an eldercare landscape that Americans truly deserve.
“We cannot respond to historic tragedy in nursing homes with anything less than historic actions,” Green House Project senior director Susan Ryan said.
GHP stands ready to assist the Biden administration, along with federal and state agencies, in its goal to make the multi-occupancy nursing home room a relic of the past. Undignified and institutional before COVID, shared nursing home rooms are infection-control liabilities in our new pandemic normal.
We urge the administration and Congress to make private rooms a requirement of participation in Medicare and Medicaid, a move that would functionally eliminate shared units across the country by removing any financial incentive to maintain them. In addition, a $1.3 billion pilot program included in the currently stalled Nursing Home Accountability and Improvement Act of 2021 provides a vital blueprint for how the government, which provides the overwhelming majority of the nursing home industry’s revenue, can balance the need for payment incentives against the even greater imperative of transparency and accountability.
GHP also calls on the wider provider community to approach the Biden proposal with the same end goal in mind: providing high-quality care for elders in dignified and safe settings.
“Change is always difficult, and the natural reaction to any new regulation or requirement is resistance and skepticism,” Ryan said. “But the hard truth is that the current long-term care system failed elders and their loved ones – not because of one individual or organization’s actions, but because decades of misaligned incentives and ineffective policies made this tragedy impossible to avoid once the pandemic struck.”
Real systemic reform will honor the sacrifices that frontline caregivers have made since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. Every day for two years, the people who work in nursing homes have put themselves – and, by extension, their families – at risk to continue performing their vital duties in a setting that became the most dangerous workplace in the country.
“A failure to embrace this call for change, even if we may not all agree on every point, would be a failure to recognize the selflessness and heroism of the long-term care workforce,” Ryan said. “We collectively owe them a future where they can do the job they were called to do – providing comfort and support for elders – with the wages, benefits, respect, and safety they’ve always deserved.”
With the right combination of new regulations and payment incentives, the federal government has the power to reshape long-term care in unprecedented ways. GHP applauds the Biden proposal as a necessary first step toward true change.
“We can never undo the harm that residents, families, and workers have experienced in the wake of COVID and poor care in nursing homes,” Ryan said. “But we can honor them by refusing to fall back on old patterns and excuses, and instead joining the administration’s call for reform. We owe future generations of America’s elders nothing less than our full commitment to change.”
About The Green House Project
Since 2003, The Green House Project has led a revolution in the way we provide eldercare services. With private rooms, warm communal areas, empowered care teams, and an emphasis on connecting with nature, Green House homes provide a vital alternative to institutional nursing facilities. GHP believes that elders, no matter their physical or cognitive challenges, deserve to live a meaningful life in a setting that doesn’t just feel like home – because it truly is home.
Alex Spanko, Director of Communications