State Rep. Tony Kurtz Discusses Proposed Federal Nursing Staffing Mandate at Elroy Health Services

State Representative Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc) and Mary Carney, Field Representative for Congressman Derrick Van Orden, joined Elroy Health Services to discuss the consequences of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ proposed federal nurse staffing mandate on nursing homes on November 6, 2023. During the meeting, Elroy Healthcare staff shared concerns about the unfunded, one-size-fits-all mandate, emphasizing that access to care could be in jeopardy for Wisconsin’s seniors if the rule is finalized.

From left: Meghan Pawley, Assistant Director of Nursing at Elroy; Tony Green, Social Services Director at Elroy; Shannon Hardy, Director of Nursing at Elroy; Mary Carney, Field Representative for Congressman Derrick Van Orden; Colin Hirst, Executive Director at Elroy; Echo Bristol, Vice President of Success at North Shore Healthcare; David Mills, Managing Partner at North Shore Healthcare; and State Representative Tony Kurtz.

“We appreciate Representative Kurtz and Mary Carney coming and listening to our concerns about this flawed policy proposal and the impact it will have on our seniors,” said David Mills, Managing Partner at North Shore Healthcare. “Nursing homes across the state are already struggling to recruit and retain staff because of a historic labor shortage. There just aren’t enough qualified staff in the labor market to meet the requirements of this proposal. It’s an impossible ask.” 

Mills said the federal staffing mandate will not improve quality of care for seniors. Instead, it will hurt them.

“Wisconsin has already seen dozens of nursing homes closures over the past three years, and this unfunded mandate will only accelerate closures or nursing homes limiting their admissions when they can’t hire enough staff to meet the requirement,” he said. “We must protect Wisconsin seniors’ access to care, and that starts with enacting meaningful policies that will build back our workforce.”

During the meeting, several members of the center’s leadership team also shared their concern over licensed practical nurses being excluded from the requirement, as it sends the wrong message to  these valuable caregivers. Administrators also discussed the increased costs that will result from the mandate and the significant financial strain it will put on Wisconsin nursing homes.

Mills recently wrote an op-ed about the dangers of the federal staffing mandate in The Cap Times.