Reps. Keller and Wild introduce Nurses CARE Act to help prevent care facility worker shortages

December 9, 2020
In The News

Washington, D.C. – On Dec. 7, Congressman Fred Keller (R-Pa.) and Congresswoman Susan Wild (D-Pa.) introduced House Resolution 8874, also called the Nurses CARE Act. The bipartisan proposal would help prevent workforce shortages in long-term care facilities.

In response to the COVID-19 health crisis, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued Section 1135 waivers to give states more flexibility to direct personnel and resources to patients in need. The waivers have allowed Temporary Nurse Aides (TNAs) to offer care during the pandemic, but it is set to expire when the national emergency declaration is lifted.

The Nurses CARE Act builds on the waivers, providing states with the necessary flexibility to let TNAs who provided critical services retain their certification after the national emergency declaration expires. In addition, states and facilities could offer on-the-job experience as a partial substitute for certification courses, exams, and other evaluations, allowing the aides who stepped up during the crisis a quicker path to full-time employment.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much about how we deliver health care at nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and long-term care centers,” Keller said. “We need to do everything we can to protect our most vulnerable populations, like our seniors and those with pre-existing conditions. I am proud of this bipartisan legislation that gives American families across our nation the peace of mind that their loved ones in long-term care are receiving the care they need to remain safe and healthy.”

“Throughout this entire pandemic, so many have selflessly joined the front lines in our nursing homes and long-term care facilities to get our most vulnerable through this health care crisis—and they deserve their work and on-the-job training to be fully recognized,” Wild said. “I’m proud to join this bipartisan, commonsense effort to help prevent critical health care shortages or gaps in Pennsylvania and ensure those who answered the call in this emergency have a pathway for full-time employment once this pandemic ends.”

“Since the temporary nurse aide position was formally approved in the Commonwealth, more than 4,000 Pennsylvanians have completed the training program, and many have been hired to assist long-term care providers in their response to COVID-19,” said Zach Shamberg, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Healthcare Association.

“This legislation not only recognizes the heroic and compassionate work these caregivers have performed since the pandemic began, but also puts them on a path to full-time employment as certified nurse aides. We are grateful to both Congressman Keller and Congresswoman Wild for their bipartisan leadership and united approach in standing up for our long-term care providers and healthcare heroes on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in Pennsylvania and throughout the country.”

The full text of the bill will be available here.