In the event of a lame duck session, Congress should increase funding for ongoing COVID-19 needs, he said.
“It’s disgraceful the coffers have run dry for many programs,” he said.
Those in the long-term care industry, which has been hit particularly hard by labor gaps, say any upcoming election is an opportunity to get their issues in front of lawmakers.
“Workforce challenges are, in my opinion, the most significant challenge that we’re facing at the moment,” said Clif Porter, senior vice president of government affairs for the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, representing more than 14,000 long-term care facilities.
AHCA/NCAL and LeadingAge—which represents not-for-profit aging services providers—support two bills aimed at addressing the problem.
The first, the Building America’s Health Care Workforce Act, is a bipartisan bill introduced in the House that would give nursing facilities two years after the public health emergency ends to certify nursing assistants hired under temporary training waivers and would allow them to count on-the-job hours toward training requirements.
“Whether as a standalone bill or included in a bipartisan legislative package, Congressman Guthrie hopes this legislation sees a vote on the House floor before the end of the year to help alleviate workforce shortages in nursing homes,” said a spokesperson for Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), one of the lawmakers who introduced the bill.
The second, the Ensuring Seniors’ Access to Quality Care Act, is a bipartisan bill in the House and Senate and would allow senior-living facilities that were assessed civil monetary penalties for deficiencies of more than $10,000 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to have in-house certified nurse assistant training programs under certain circumstances. Currently, those facilities are banned from doing so for two years.
“Frankly, at this point, we’re working on getting as many co-sponsors for those pieces of legislation as possible,” Porter said. “That traditionally makes it easier to get included in an end-of-the-year type package.”