CMS urged to reissue blanket waiver for temporary nurse aides.
A significant number of temporary nurse aides (TNAs) may lose their jobs Friday if the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) doesn’t reissue a blanket waiver.
The American Health Care Association (AHCA) and National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) have asked the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reissue the blanket waiver originally intended to allow nursing homes to employ temporary nurse aides beginning during the pandemic.
TNAs handle non-clinical tasks, serving as companions for nursing home residents. In June, the section of the 1135 waiver permitting their employment ended, giving them four months to become certified nursing assistants (CNAs), which would allow them to remain at their facilities.
However, there is a backlog of CNA training and testing in multiple states, leaving some TNAs without the training and certification they need by the October 7 deadline and possible job loss, according to a press release from AHCA/NCAL.
"Temporary nurse aides stepped up during the pandemic to serve our nation's seniors in their hour of need, and now they are on pins and needles waiting to hear if they'll have a job come Friday," Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL said in a statement. "It's time to cut the red tape and bring certainty to these caregivers and their residents who have come to rely on them."
Currently, CMS has allowed only short-term exceptions for the employment of TNAs to individual states and facilities that submitted requests and were approved. As of Monday, October 3, four states have had these waiver requests approved, with more than 10 other states still waiting for an answer or further information to apply for the waiver.
"It is evident that the temporary nurse aide role has been pivotal and beneficial to our nursing home residents nationwide, not on a case-by-case basis," Holly Harmon, RN, LNHA, senior vice president of quality, regulatory, and clinical services at AHCA/NCAL said in a statement.
"Federal data clearly shows that quality of care for residents remains high when temporary nurse aides are present. Our residents deserve continuity of care from caregivers they know, and these experienced aides deserve adequate time to build a permanent career in long term care."
As the healthcare industry's nursing crisis presses on, the October 7 deadline may worsen its effect on nursing homes, which have lost more than 220,000 caregivers over the duration of the pandemic—more than any other part of the industry.
“Temporary nurse aides stepped up during the pandemic to serve our nation's seniors in their hour of need, and now they are on pins and needles waiting to hear if they'll have a job come Friday. It's time to cut the red tape and bring certainty to these caregivers and their residents who have come to rely on them.”
Mark Parkinson, president and CEO, AHCA/NCAL
Temporary nurse aides employed during the pandemic may potentially lose their jobs on Friday, October 7 when a four-month window for them to become certified nursing aides expires.
A backlog of training and testing in multiple states has prevented many TNAs from becoming CNAs.
So far, only four states have had their waiver requests approved, with even more waiting for a response or additional information to apply for a waiver.