DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — There are state staffing requirements for skilled nursing facilities in place in Ohio. Now is the first time federal staffing regulations have been on the table.

Leaders at some local healthcare facilities say it is not the time to implement harsher staffing regulations for already low staffed facilities. 

Pete Van Runkle is the executive director at Ohio Healthcare Association (OHCA). He says that 10,000 less people are currently working in skilled nursing facilities compared to immediately before the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Van Runkle, the new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposal for staffing regulations could be counter productive for the hundreds of skilled nursing facilities that his organization represents in Ohio.

“There’s just a lot that needs to be done on the supply side before we even start talking about requiring more,” said Van Runkle.

Through new Medicare requirements, more registered nurses (RN) will be required to be on-site for longer periods of time. In the past, the facilities used licensed practicing nurses and nursing assistants. 

The change would be coming at a time when there’s already a major RN shortage across the country. 

“The notion that somehow magically we’re going to, you know, all of these people are just going to drop out of the sky is a little bit preposterous,” Van Runkle says.

There is also a possibility that facilities may release patients to fit the requirements, which could leave around 16,000 patients without care.

The OHCA says the solution lies in giving facilities time to adjust.

Kenn Daily is the longtime president of Elder Care Systems Group, a local care agency. He says he agrees with the assessment.

“Just making it government-run proposal is just not the right fit for our profession,” Daily said. “And given the time that it’s done. I mean, there’s no there’s no incremental increases. There’s no phased in approach. It just can be one day we’re at whatever we’re at in the next day, bam. And that that’s you know, that doesn’t make sense.”

CMS is actively accepting comments from facilities on their opinion of the proposal. In April, the government organization will review them to determine if the changes will be put into place.