A recent study released by the United States Department of Health and Human Services found that more than 90 percent of the nations’ nursing homes have too few workers to properly care for residents. The report concludes that “it is not currently feasible” for the federal government to require nursing homes to set minimum ratios of nursing staff to patients. This conclusion is based largely upon the costs that would be required to meet the minimum ratios. In response to this report, the Bush Administration has indicated that is has no intention of imposing rules requiring nursing homes to establish a minimum ratio of nursing staff to patients.
The Bush Administration so stated even though the report found “strong and compelling” evidence that nursing homes with poor staffing ratios were more likely to provide substandard care. The Administration’s position on this issue is a clear indication that President Bush is placing the interests of the nursing home industry before the rights of elderly Americans who are dependent upon nursing home care for their support and maintenance. The report indicates that it would take $7.6 billion a year for the nursing home to reach adequate staffing levels. The Bush Administration likely sees the requirement of a spending increase by the nursing home industry as a reduction in funds available for its re-election campaign.