Nursing homes may get more time to certify temporary nurse aides hired under relaxed training rules during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In revised guidance issued Monday, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it would grant individual, statewide and county waivers to facilities where barriers exist during the ongoing public health emergency, which is set to expire Oct. 15 but could be extended another 90 days. CMS had set Oct. 7 as the deadline for nursing homes to bring TNAs into compliance, but obstacles to testing and training left many scrambling to certify workers. The new waivers will granted for “a timeframe that is as short as possible," the guidance says.
The nursing home industry supports CMS offering more time for training but trade groups maintain the agency hasn't done enough, given staffing shortages.
"So much more is needed,” Janine Finck-Boyle, vice president of health policy for LeadingAge, which represents not-for-profit aging services providers, wrote in an email. “Many of our members tell us of barriers and extensive wait times,” Finck-Boyle wrote.
Insufficient time to to certify TNAs would disrupt resident care, Holly Harmon, senior vice president of quality, regulatory and clinical services at the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, wrote in an email. “We appreciate CMS recognizing that temporary nurse aides should have a more realistic opportunity to get certified as a next step on their long-term care career path. However, the concern remains that nationwide training and testing backlogs could extend well beyond the public health emergency, perhaps even for years,” Harmon wrote.
LeadingAge and the AHCA/NCAL support the Building America's Health Care Workforce Act, a bipartisan House bill that would give nursing homes two years after the public health emergency ends to certify workers and would permit on-the-job hours to count toward training requirements.