IRRC Approves Updated Pennsylvania Nursing Home Regulations
Harrisburg, PA (October 28, 2022) — Pennsylvania’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) held a final hearing today on the Department of Health’s proposed nursing home regulations. The five-member commission unanimously approved four separate regulations put forth by the Department.
The Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA) noted concerns about provisions in all four regulations — some of which were out of scope from the regulations that were initially introduced. Even so, PHCA remained in favor of adopting three of the four packages.
PHCA offered minimal support for the adoption of Regulation 10-223, a regulation focused on the change of ownership process and license renewals. A more robust and efficient change of ownership process has been an advocacy focus for PHCA since 2019. Unfortunately, the regulation proposed by the Department fell short of delivering a process that carries both strength and clarity for the public and regulated community. PHCA concerns are raised to the point where vague language, with little to no explanation on the requests and management of sensitive and proprietary information, could further limit access to care.
“Among a myriad of issues, this proposal will require costly and time-consuming annual financial audits for providers; it will revert Pennsylvania back to a ‘Certificate of Need’-like process where competitors and special interest groups can prevent expansion to meet access to care needs; it will require, we believe, information that violates Right to Know Law standards; and it will require information that won’t achieve the desired goals of transparency and accountability,” Pennsylvania Health Care Association President and CEO Zach Shamberg explained during the hearing. “And that’s all aside from a very basic question: Who at the Department will be reviewing all this new, sensitive and proprietary information?”
Recognizing the lengthy regulatory process, Shamberg stated that if the regulation is adopted, the Department must work with PHCA to improve it.
“We are simply asking this commission – and, ultimately, the Department – to bring us back to the table,” Shamberg stated. “Give stakeholders and providers ample time to work together — just as we did on staffing minimums — to develop a meaningful regulation that can create the change we are all hoping for.”
Increased staffing minimums were originally presented in Regulation 10-221, but thanks to collaborative work between the Wolf Administration, PHCA and other stakeholders, an agreement was reached to remove a mandated staffing minimum and instead focus on staffing ratios. Regulation 10-224 was reintroduced as the regulation centered around staffing ratios, and is supported by PHCA.
“We strongly support this new rulemaking,” Shamberg shared during the hearing. “With a focus on realistic staffing ratios and overall staffing minimums, providers will now have an attainable goal — especially given the increased Medicaid funding that was approved by the General Assembly and Governor Wolf in the most recent state budget. We are grateful to the Department of Health and the Wolf administration for bringing us to the table, and we hope that, moving forward, continued collaboration will take place between our providers, the Department, and its surveyors so we can ensure the industry and its regulators are operating in unison, and measuring compliance in a reasonable and fair manner — especially as these new staffing ratios are implemented.”
For more information on the regulatory packages, click on the links below.
- 10-221 LTC Final Form Rulemaking 1
- 10-222 LTC Final Form Rulemaking 2
- 10-223 LTC Final Form Rulemaking 3
- 10-224 LTC Final Form Rulemaking 4