Greater Lehigh Chamber supports Rep. Keller’s Nurses Care Act
The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce voiced its support for a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Fred Keller (R-PA) designed to strengthen the healthcare workforce during the pandemic.
The bill, called the Nurses CARE Act (H.R. 331), would permit states to allow Temporary Nurse Aides’ on-the-job experience to be counted toward their official certification. This seeks to ensure the continuity of care for residents living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
It was introduced in the House on Jan. 15 by Keller and is cosponsored by U.S. Reps. Susan Wild (D-PA) and Mike Kelly (R-PA).
“In the Lehigh Valley, the healthcare industry continues to be the number one employer, making up approximately 20% of workforce in the area,” officials at the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce wrote in a letter to Keller. “Registered Nurses are the number one occupation in the Lehigh Valley, but the demand continues to outpace the supply. We strongly believe your bill will make a significant impact on the current nursing shortage we are seeing not only in the Lehigh Valley but also around the United States.”
After COVID-19 hit last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued waivers to provide states with greater flexibility to direct personnel and resources to patients in need. This regulatory flexibility has been an essential tool by allowing the employment of Temporary Nurse Aides, but it is set to expire when the national emergency declaration is lifted.
The Nurses CARE Act would provide states with the necessary flexibility to ensure that competent TNAs who provided critical services during the pandemic can retain their certification after the national emergency declaration has expired. Also, it would allow states and facilities to offer on-the-job experience as a partial substitute for certification courses, testing, and other evaluations. This provision would create a pathway to full-time employment for TNAs who have already received extensive on-the-job training during the pandemic.
The Nurses CARE Act is also endorsed by the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, Americans for Prosperity, and ManorCare Health Services.