Skip to Content

Connolly, Estes Reintroduce Senior Care Legislation

Today Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Virginia) and Ron Estes (R-Kansas) introduced bipartisan legislation to address a critical shortage of certified nursing assistants (CNAs). The Ensuring Seniors' Access to Quality Care Act will allow nursing homes that have been forced to suspend in-house CNA education programs after receiving a certain level of penalties to resume those programs once quality standards are met.

"Amidst an historic shortage of CNAs, our efforts should be focused on bolstering the workforce and ensuring that the needs of our seniors living in nursing homes are met," saidRep. Connolly. "That's exactly what our bill will accomplish. I'm grateful to Rep. Estes for his leadership on this critical issue and I look forward to continuing to work together to get this important legislation signed into law."
"Nearly every industry across the country is facing worker shortages, and the same is true for certified nursing assistants," said Rep. Estes. "Together with Rep. Connolly, we are working to address this critical shortage of CNAs, especially in rural areas, by allowing nursing homes to resume CNA education programs faster. This common sense bill ensures nursing homes continue to meet high standards without losing staffing levels needed for quality care."
"We thank Reps. Estes and Connolly for reintroducing this important legislation as our sector continues to face a historic workforce crisis," said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association. "Nursing homes have experienced the worst job loss out of any health care sector during the pandemic, and now more than ever we need solutions like the Ensuring Seniors' Access to Quality Care Act to help nursing homes vet and train crucially needed caregivers. With this legislation, we can help our nation's seniors receive high-quality care delivered by highly trained and dedicated caregivers."


"Certified nurse aides (CNAs) are essential members of every nursing home's care team, and we desperately need more of them. LeadingAge and our nonprofit mission-driven members support every opportunity to recruit and train new CNAs. This legislation will do just that by helping to alleviate a longstanding barrier to training and ensuring the availability of onsite programs to build potential employees' knowledge and skills," said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO, LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services. "These training programs provide a solid educational foundation as well as hands-on experience working with residents and staff; they are truly a win-win. We thank Reps. Estes and Connolly and remain eager to work with them and their Senate colleagues to see this bill passed into law."


"The long-term care workforce shortage in our country is very real, and it is causing painful access to care issues for seniors and their families," said Rachel Monger, president and CEO of LeadingAge Kansas. "If we want older adults to keep receiving the care they need, we have to reform outdated federal laws that stop us from training new workers. We are grateful that Congressman Estes is standing up for Kansas, and putting forth actual solutions to invest in care for our seniors. This legislation cannot pass soon enough."


"Our seniors deserve our respect, and even more so, our commitment to their well-being. The CNA lockout has proven to be an ineffective policy with the unintended consequences of denying seniors the consistent and compassionate care they so deserve. It is well known that the labor crisis affecting senior care is compounded by the lack of established programs to train those individuals interested in a helping profession. Eliminating the CNA lockout is one significant step to bring care and compassion to our seniors. I am grateful for Rep. Estes standing with the seniors of Kansas to support the elimination of this damaging policy," said Karen Sturchio, CEO of Kansas Christian Home.


"As a rural, stand-alone long term care provider I appreciate the reintroduction of the Ensuring Seniors Access to Quality Care Act; specifically the CNA training lockout portion. In the midst of a nationwide nursing shortage, it is imperative that we have access to train as many people as we can that are interested in the nursing field. The nursing home sector faces further demand as baby boomers look to retire across the country. Being able to train CNAs in our facility not only introduces new people to our line of work, it allows them to understand how rewarding the work can be. In a rural setting, on-site training is even more critical. Nearly 50% of CNAs on our staff were trained in-house; if this training isn't available we do not have the capability to care for vulnerable Kansans," said Nate Glendening, administrator, Prairie Wind Villa Assisted Living, Phillips County Retirement Center.


"The dedication and compassion of CNAs are crucial in ensuring that older Americans receive the best possible care and quality of life. Part of our role is to provide training and essential services so they can continue to provide daily care, comfort, and compassion," said Dana Parsons, vice president and legislative counsel, LeadingAge Virginia.


"CNAs are the backbone of caring for older Americans, providing essential services that allow seniors to live with dignity and independence. It is necessary for them to continue to have the hands-on training they need as they are the heart of long-term care," said Josh Bagley, executive director, The View Alexandria by Goodwin Living.

In-house CNA education at nursing homes is often free to the CNA candidate, allowing students to avoid the burden of paying for an education program at a local community college or school, which may or may not exist in their geographic area. This helps meet the need for CNAs and allows nursing homes to build their own pipelines of skilled nursing staff.
Under current law, nursing homes that receive a threshold number of penalties for deficiencies in quality have a two-year mandatory suspension placed on in-house CNA certification programs. The Ensuring Seniors' Access to Quality Care Act allows suspensions on in-house CNA education to be rescinded once deficiencies are assessed and found to be remedied while allowing for additional oversight of facilities, not exceeding the original two years.
Click here to download the legislation.

Back to top