The bipartisan Elder Justice Coalition today called for immediate Congressional hearings into a disturbing report issued this weekend pointing to chronic staff shortages in nursing homes.

The Coalition specifically asked the hearings to focus on the response by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to the report, specifically on how staffing shortages went unnoticed and on changes to the nursing home star rating system to prevent this problem in the future.

Bob Blancato, National Coordinator of the Elder Justice Coalition, said, “Although there may not be consensus on optimal staffing levels in nursing homes, this new data from CMS again reveals that many facilities do not have adequate staffing to protect the health and safety of their residents. Staff shortages can contribute to elder abuse—most especially neglect—and we must do everything possible to prevent this. The decision to place an individual in a nursing home is difficult enough without having concerns about the quantity and quality of the staff at a given facility, and grading facilities ‘on a curve’ is no way to ensure the safety of vulnerable older adults in nursing homes.”