Addressing the Nursing Home Workforce Shortage by Returning Training Flexibilities to TNAs

Staff numbers are still down for retirement homes with the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of this reality, many operators, legislators and industry advocates have continued their efforts to bolster the industry’s frontline staff, especially with the upcoming end of the Temporary Nurse Aide (TNA) waiver. .

At least that’s exactly what Michigan lawmakers hope to accomplish after passing House Bill 5089 last week.

“All Michiganders deserve access to affordable, high-quality health care and by allowing more nurse aides to enter the field and receive vital training, we are meeting the needs of the moment,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, in a statement released after the bill and others were signed last Thursday. “Addressing these challenges with innovative, bipartisan solutions ensures that everyone in Michigan can succeed.”

The bill, sponsored by Representative Ann Bollin, aims to adjust the training requirements nurse aides must meet without compromising the quality of their training. The hope is that this will help address the shortage of healthcare workers.

“I have heard from many in our community about critical staffing shortages in our health care facilities, particularly nursing homes. Many people are concerned about getting adequate care due to this shortage,” Bollin, of Brighton Township, said in a press release. “The solution I have proposed makes it possible to remedy the shortage of personnel at the source. »

The bill will change the requirements an applicant must meet to be registered as a nurse aide by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, creating an easier path for direct care workers who want to become CNAs.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced earlier this year that it would end certain waivers granted during the pandemic. Among them was the waiver for the nursing aide training skills and assessment program, which is due to end on June 7.

The waiver allowed certified nursing trainees, or TNAs, to work as caregivers longer than the federally mandated four months before taking a state exam. If hired after June 7, TNAs will have four months from their hire date to meet testing requirements, CMS said.

While some carriers have sought to get as many TNAs through certification and testing before the deadline, a federal bill introduced earlier this month seeks to extend some of the flexibilities offered during the pandemic for 24 months. supplements after the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Michigan operators reportedly used the waiver to bring more than 2,000 workers into long-term care facilities because losing them would have a devastating effect on an industry that already faces huge staffing challenges.

With House Bill 5069 — now called Public Law 79 of 2022 — direct care workers will receive credit for work they performed during the pandemic while the waiver was in effect. It will also allow CNA candidates to take a nurse aide competency exam online or through remote means, or at a nursing facility that is proctoring the exam.

“This new law will allow these caregivers to continue to provide care as they have done for much of the past year while continuing their education – benefiting staff and residents of Michigan nursing facilities” , said Bollin.

Another health care-related bill, HB 5609, passed the House this week as it seeks to bring more consistency to fines and penalties for nursing homes across the state.

Michael A. Bynum