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Department of Health Announces Public Comment Period for Latest Proposed Regulations to Improve Skilled Nursing Facility Care


Harrisburg, PA - The Pennsylvania Department of Health today provided an update on the third package of proposed skilled nursing facility regulations that includes updates to align with federal regulations and expands the information that applicants for licensure must provide to operate a new facility or take ownership of an existing facility. This package of proposed regulations was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on March 19. At that time, a 30-day public comment period started.

“Giving the department the tools to ensure potential owners of skilled nursing facilities are thoroughly vetted should help provide some peace of mind to residents and their families,” said Acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter. “Publishing the proposed regulation updates in a series of separate, smaller packages allows each section the opportunity for appropriate feedback during the public comment period.”

The department encourages all interested stakeholders, including industry groups, resident advocates and the general public to read and comment on the proposed regulations within this time period. The regulations are published both on the Pennsylvania Bulletin website and the IRRC website and comments may be submitted to the Department of Health via email:  

This is the third in a series of four packages of proposed regulations that are based on the latest research, input from subject matter experts and industry stakeholders and informed by lessons learned during the COVID-19 global pandemic. The third package of proposed regulations expands the information that applicants for licensure must provide to include detailed ownership information, financial data, staffing and emergency plans, a proposed operating budget, and regulatory history. These requirements will apply to licenses requested for new facilities and changes of ownership for existing facilities. The package also increases the frequency of required facility assessments, adds bed bugs to the list of reportable diseases and updates requirements related to the prevention of tuberculosis.

Regulations of Pennsylvania’s 685 skilled nursing facilities, where more than 72,000 people live, have not been updated in nearly 25 years.

The department is concurrently working on the final package of proposed regulations that will include proposed updates to other critical topics including resident rights and staffing ratios. That package will follow the same process for public comment as the first three packages of proposed updates.

The Department of Health plans to submit the final-form regulations once proposed packages of updates move through the state’s regulatory review process. The regulations will apply only to the 685 skilled nursing facilities licensed by the Department of Health. Personal care homes and assisted living homes typically housing residents with less acute health care needs are regulated by the Department of Human Services under separate regulations. 



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