Speaker says House GOP to investigate nursing home staffing

DES MOINES — House Speaker Pat Grassley says House Republicans intend to examine the activities of agencies that provide temporary workers, like traveling nurses, in Iowa nursing homes.

“We pay for as a state, roughly 50% of the bill…in nursing homes through Medicaid,” Grassley says. “And right now we’re seeing every time we put more money into the sytem, these out-of-state companies continue to skyrocket the rates.”

Grassley says it appears the agencies are also “poaching” staff from nursing homes.  “What is the number one priority when it comes to providing care?” Grassley says. “It’s making sure you have proper staffing levels and continuity of care and that’s why we’re going to look at it.”

In December, Senate Democrats called on Senate Republicans to launch an investigation of cases of abuse and neglect in Iowa nursing homes. Grassley says as House members begin drafting next year’s budget the state agency that inspects nursing homes, those issues will be examined, along with nursing home staffing issues in general. “Whether it’s accountability for the individuals in the home or its for the taxpayer, I think it’s something we need to engage in,” Grassley says.

Grassley made his comments on “Iowa Press” on Iowa P-B-S. Six months ago, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services determined 42 percent of Iowa nursing homes had a shortage of nurses and other staff who provide direct care to residents. That’s nearly double the national average and Iowa nursing homes have begun to rely on temporary agencies to fill key roles.