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QUALITY Takes Additional Steps to Increase Staffing and Accountability in

                               Nursing Homes
                            September 16, 2000

Today, in a live radio address broadcast from The Washington Home in Washington, DC, President Clinton will announce that he will be sending legislation to the Congress next week to improve nursing home quality nationwide. This initiative: (1) invests $1 billion over 5 years in a new grant program to increase staffing levels nationwide and improve quality of nursing home care; (2) imposes immediate penalties on nursing facilities placing residents at risk and reinvests these funds in the new grant program; (3) directs the Health Care Financing Administration to establish national minimum staffing requirements and complete recommendations for appropriate reimbursement within two years; (4) helps families make informed decisions by providing accurate information on staffing levels; and (5) launches a new campaign to identify and prevent unintended weight loss and dehydration among nursing home residents. He will state that these proposals can and should be included in any legislation that increases funding for health care providers being considered by the Congress. The President will praise Senators Grassley and Breaux, as well as Congressmen Gephardt, Waxman, and Stark, for their leadership on this issue and encourage the Congress to act quickly on this new initiative.

MORE MUST BE DONE TO IMPROVE QUALITY OF CARE IN NURSING HOMES. About 1.6 million older Americans and people with disabilities receive care in approximately 17,000 nursing homes. The Clinton-Gore Administration has made the health and safety of nursing home residents a top priority -- implementing the toughest nursing home regulations in the history of the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Many nursing homes provide high quality care to the frail and vulnerable elderly individuals they serve. However, recent reports have demonstrated a strong correlation between inadequate staffing and poor quality of care. Specific findings include:

PRAISES A BIPARTISAN CONTINGENT OF MEMBERS FOR THEIR LEADERSHIP IN IMPROVING NURSING HOME QUALITY. Senators Grassley, Breaux, Reid, and Kohl, as well as Congressmen Gephardt, Waxman, and Stark, have shown exemplary leadership on this issue and their efforts to improve nursing home quality nationwide.

BUILDS ON THE CLINTON-GORE ADMINISTRATION'S STRONG COMMITMENT TO IMPROVING NURSING HOME QUALITY. Protecting patients in nursing homes has been and will continue to be a priority of the Clinton-Gore Administration. In 1995, the President threatened to veto legislation pending before the Congress that would eliminate Federal enforcement of nursing home quality standards, and issued the toughest nursing home regulations in the history of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, leading to measurable improvements in quality of care for nursing home residents. In July of 1998, the Clinton-Gore Administration initiated a new nursing home quality initiative that ensures swift and strong penalties for nursing homes failing to comply with standards, strengthened oversight of state enforcement mechanisms, and implemented unprecedented efforts to improve nutrition and prevent bed sores. Finally, the Administration recently instructed states to eliminate corrective periods during which nursing homes could avoid the imposition of sanctions, such as fines, when a nursing home is found to have caused harm to a resident on consecutive surveys, in order to put additional pressure on nursing homes to meet all health and safety standards.

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