Calling All Health Care Advocates!
As you likely know all too well, temporary nurse agency costs have skyrocketed. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, our nation’s hospitals and long term care facilities have coped with intense pressure on staff and resources. Temporary nurse agency costs have increased by 466% since 2019 for hospitals and almost doubled for nursing facilities between 2017 and 2021. These escalating costs are primarily paid for by MaineCare and go into the agencies' profit margins. These rising rates are making the cost of care unaffordable and risk sending our state's health care system on a downward spiral.
If left unchecked, temporary nurse agencies will continue to make the cost of care unsustainable. Increasing the transparency and accountability for temporary nurse agencies is in the best interest of our patients.
LD 451 - An Act to Ensure Transparent and Accountable Temporary Nurse Agencies introduces several steps to help Maine begin to address this problem.
If passed, the bill would require the following:
- Temporary nurse agencies to report to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services:
- The total number of employee placements, where employees were placed, how long they were placed
- The total and average amount charged for each category of health care employee providing services
- The total and average amount of wages paid to each category of health care employee for providing services
- The total and average amount of stipends paid to each health care employee
- And documentation of appropriate credentials for each employee
- DHHS shall provide a summary report of the reports above to the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services
- Increase the annual Temporary Nurse Agency registration fee from $25 to $1000
- Any change of ownership, operation, or location of the agency requires an updated registration
- Temporary nurse agencies ensure all employees meet the position's qualification requirements
- Temporary nurse agencies cannot require, as a condition of employment, that their employees recruit new employees among the permanent staff of health care facilities
Talking Points to Consider
- Briefly introduce yourself, your place of employment, and your history of working in long term care care
- Note the importance of direct care workers in the delivery of care to your residents
- Talk about how the recent rise in temporary nurse agencies has increased costs and caused instability in the workplace
- Including specific stories and figures from your facility is helpful
- Ask that they support LD 451
- You may want to cover how specific parts of the bill would help your facility
- You may want to cover how inaction will likely lead to continued skyrocketing costs of healthcare
- Thank them for their work and for reading your email
- Anything you submit will be public record
- A copy of your message will go to all of the Health and Human Services Committee members
- Additionally, MHCA will submit a copy of your testimony to the state legislature’s testimony portal
- Contact [email protected] with any questions
- mehca.org has additional resources available about advocacy, including a facility tour guide if you would like to bring your state senator and/or representative to your facility