A stethoscope on top of a pile of money
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After three months with no public response from the federal government on the issue of price-gouging, the American Health Care Association is again calling on officials to investigate tactics being used by temporary staffing agencies against strained long-term care providers.

In a joint letter to the White House COVID-19 Response Team coordinator on Thursday, AHCA and the American Hospital Association called on the federal government to take a closer look into “exorbitant staffing agency rates.” The letter comes days after nearly 200 House lawmakers requested that federal agencies investigate staffing firms’ conduct and practices.

AHCA and LeadingAge first raised similar concerns with the Federal Trade Commission in October. Several states are also moving to cap the rates agencies can charge, among them Pennsylvania and Washington.

The associations argued that various nurse and other direct care staffing agencies have exploited the severe shortage of healthcare personnel by charging uniformly high rates — which suggests “widespread coordination and abuse of market position.” 

“Unfortunately, it appears many of these agencies are engaged in anticompetitive practices that are detrimental to hospitals’ and LTC facilities’ ability to care for their patients,” the organizations wrote. “This is especially harmful as the healthcare workforce continues to experience shortages related to the pandemic while demand for services has increased.” 

As of last week, neither AHCA nor LeadingAge had received responses from the  Federal Trade Commission regarding a requested investigation into possible anticompetitive practices. In its new letter, AHCA called on the White House to ensure the matter gets the necessary attention. 

The organizations did not set a deadline for a response. 

“Preventing these agencies from exploiting our organizations’ desperate need for healthcare personnel should help mitigate one of the enormous pressures on our hospitals, health systems, and LTC facilities and enable them to focus on caring for the patients who rely so heavily upon them as the pandemic continues,” the groups concluded.