– Rep. Tim Bonner (R-Mercer/Butler) today announced his legislation that would require Contract Health Care Service Agencies that provide temporary nursing workers in nursing homes, assisted living residences and personal care homes to register with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) as a condition of their operations in the Commonwealth was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf.
House Bill 2293
(now Act 128 of 2022
) would require temporary staffing agencies to register with DOH; provide important background information regarding the legality and operation of their entity; require that each nurse have the proper credentials, criminal background checks and malpractice insurance; require Worker’s Compensation coverage; and set due process rights in the event of any complaints regarding the temporary staffing agencies.
“This legislation will help address the proliferation of temporary nurse staffing agencies and the devasting impact they are having on the finances and operation of our long-term care facilities,” said Bonner. “Due to massive staff shortages, many long-term care providers have been forced to rely on temporary agency staff to fill the critical positions needed to provide care and meet minimum staffing requirements. Long-term sustainability of nursing homes is now becoming a critical concern as 39% of responding facilities stated they cannot afford to keep facilities open for more than a year.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, temporary staffing agencies have raised their hourly rate to as much as 400% above the current median wage rate within these long-term care facilities. In addition, staffing agencies are recruiting full-time employees from the same long-term care facilities where they’re sending temporary staff, compounding the staffing and financial crisis in the nursing homes, and last-minute call-offs and cancellations from agencies have plagued the sector, especially at the height of the pandemic.
“Recognizing the increased role that these agencies play in the day-to-day operations of nearly 700 nursing homes and 1,200 assisted living residences and personal care homes, we must ensure they are operating in a manner that supports the long-term care sector and high-quality resident care,” said Bonner. “This legislation would place registration requirements on health care service agencies operating in long-term care facilities, as well as require a system for reporting complaints and establishing penalties.”
More than 70% of all care provided in Pennsylvania’s nursing homes is paid for by the state’s Medicaid program. The Commonwealth is a principal partner in the long-term care continuum and has a vital interest in ensuring their long-term viability.
Bonner’s bill will take effect immediately.