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2 Bills Addressing LTC Workforce Issues Reintroduced to Congress

Analysis  |  By Jasmyne Ray  
   May 31, 2023

The Building America's Health Care Workforce Act and Ensuring Seniors' Access to Quality Care Act both have bipartisan support.

As nursing homes struggle to rebuild their workforce to pre-pandemic levels, legislators are taking notice of the crisis and taking action.

Two bills, the Building America's Health Care Workforce Act and Ensuring Seniors' Access to Quality Care Act, have been reintroduced to Congress to potentially aid the sector in its ongoing workforce shortage.

Like the temporary nurse aide waiver enabled by the public health emergency declaration, the Building America's Health Care Workforce Act would give temporary nurse aides (TNAs) currently working in nursing homes 24 months to become certified nursing assistants (CNA).

"Hundreds of thousands of temporary nurse aides stepped up to serve vulnerable seniors during [the pandemic], supporting residents with non-clinical tasks and offering companionship," Holly Harmon, senior vice president of quality, regulatory, and clinical services for the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) said in a statement.

With many states dealing with a significant backlog in CNA training and testing, the bill would allow TNAs to apply their on-the-job experience and training to the required 75-hour federal training requirement.

The Ensuring Seniors' Access to Quality Care Act serves to address the nationwide CNA shortage directly by ensuring that nurse aides are able to access the training they need. In particular, the bill allows skilled nursing facilities that were required to terminate their in-house education programs to resume them once the noted deficiencies are corrected.

Providers will also have access to the National Practitioner Data Bank where they can conduct background checks to help identify the best candidates for open positions.

"Nursing homes have experienced the worst job loss out of any healthcare 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," Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL, said in a statement.

Jasmyne Ray is the revenue cycle editor at HealthLeaders. 

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