VP Harris to unveil nursing home rules in battleground state of Wisconsin

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden visits Raleigh, North Carolina
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By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to the political battleground state of Wisconsin on Monday to announce two final rules aimed at improving access to long-term care and ensuring the quality of care-giving jobs, a White House official said.

The White House said Monday's announcements finalized two rules first announced in September as part of U.S. President Joe Biden's pledge to crack down on nursing homes that endanger resident safety, and to improve access to high-quality care.

Harris will announce the rules in a meeting with nursing home care workers in La Crosse, Wisconsin, marking her third trip to the state this year and her seventh since taking office.

Biden visited Wisconsin last month after clinching the Democratic Party's nomination as he focused on securing votes among suburban women, Black voters and Latinos across the Midwest ahead of the November presidential election.

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll released earlier this month showed Biden leading his Republican rival former president Donald Trump by 4 percentage points, up 1 percentage point from March.

Wisconsin and Michigan are part of the "blue wall," along with Pennsylvania, that Biden will need to hold to secure a second term. In 2016, Trump flipped all three to win the White House, but Biden took them back four years ago.

One of the rules would set federal minimum staffing levels for nursing homes, addressing longtime complaints about abuse and neglect in the industry that were highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It requires all nursing homes that receive federal funding through Medicare and Medicaid to have 3.48 hours per resident per day of total staffing. That means a facility with 100 residents would need at least two or three RNs and at least 10 or 11 nurse aides as well as two additional nurse staff to meet the minimum staffing standards, the White House said.

The second final rule will help improve access to home care services for the 7 million seniors and people with disabilities who rely on these serves, while improve the quality of care-giving jobs, many held by women of color, the White House.

It will ensure adequate compensation for home care workers by requiring that at least 80% of Medicaid payments for home care services go to workers’ wages.

States will also be required to be more transparent in how much they pay for home care services and how they set those rates, and set up advisory panel including beneficiaries, home care workers and other key stakeholders.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Michael Perry)