caregiver with resident

The nation’s largest long-term care advocacy group is urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to reissue a blanket waiver that would allow nursing homes to employ temporary nurse aides beyond the public health emergency.

A temporary nurse aid (TNA) waiver during the pandemic allowed skilled nursing and other long-term care facilities to employ non-yet-certified aides for more than four months, even if they haven’t completed the necessary training and certification requirements. But the 1135 waiver allowing employment of TNAs ended on June 6. Under a CMS statute, these workers had only four months to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and retain their employment.

With about half of states now experiencing CNA training and/or testing backlogs, there is not enough time to prepare these workers to become full-fledged CNAs, according to the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living.

Case by case won’t work

CMS is allowing short-term exceptions to continue employing TNAs on a case-by-case basis determined by individual state or facility requests, the organization said in a statement released Monday. Four states have approved waivers and more than 10 are waiting to hear from CMS about their status or how to apply, it added.

AHCA/NCAL in April urged SNFs in states where there aren’t any training delays to transition all of their temporary nurse aides to certified status. But this hasn’t been possible for many to accomplish, especially in the face of an ongoing workforce shortage, the industry advocate said. The organization has since continued its pressure on federal agencies to extend the TNA waiver, along with other public health flexibilities.

Safeguard these jobs

“Temporary nurse aides stepped up during the pandemic to serve our nation’s seniors in their hour of need, and now they are on pins and needles waiting to hear if they’ll have a job come Friday,” Mark Parkinson, president and CEO, said in a statement. “It’s time to cut the red tape and bring certainty to these heroic caregivers and their residents who have come to rely on them.”

“It is evident that the temporary nurse aide role has been pivotal and beneficial to our nursing home residents nationwide, not on a case-by-case basis,” added Holly Harmon, RN, senior vice president of quality, regulatory and clinical services. “Our residents deserve continuity of care from caregivers they know, and these experienced aides deserve adequate time to build a permanent career in long term care.”

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