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Biden's 1st State of the Union touches on the state of long-term care in U.S.

In his first State of the Union address, President Joe Biden promised his administration would do more to improve nursing home care. Long-term care providers and aging advocates were paying close attention to the details.

Biden specifically called out private-equity owned facilities. So why the concern? According to a JAMA Health Forum study from last November, quality of care declined when these companies took over.

Dana Kennedy is the state director of AARP Arizona. "And so sometimes it's a corporate model that they're looking at, they're always looking at their bottom line rather than the quality of care," she explained. "I would like to flip that upside down and look at quality care, rather than profit margin."

The president also said Medicare is going to set higher standards for care and that could mean minimum staffing requirements. However, hiring and retaining staff has been difficult. And without a clear funding mechanism in place, it has David Voepel, the CEO of the Arizona Health Care Association, which represents skilled nursing homes, concerned:

"Demanding that you have a staffing ratio without providing any means to get to that staffing ratio, whether it's monetary, or finding the staff themselves," he said "It'll be difficult for sniffs to be able to complete that objective."

Left out of the conversation are Arizona’s roughly 2500 assisted living facilities that are not regulated by the federal government. 

KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.