med tech

New Hampshire lawmakers are weighing a measure to funnel state funding to skilled nursing facilities that train employees as medication nursing assistants.

The goal is to increase certifications for licensed nursing assistants, who cannot dispense certain medications without special training. While med techs have been permitted in New Hampshire, an additional $200,000 in funding would make it more affordable for nursing homes to train and advance such workers.

The funding was proposed in an amendment to the state budget, which is still being hammered out by lawmakers. 

“LNAs are some of our lowest paid staff and can’t necessarily afford this course unless their institution pays for it,” Kate Horgan, vice president of the Dupont Group representing the New Hampshire Association of Counties, said, per the New Hampshire Bulletin. “If they do that, then they are able to take some pressure off of those registered nurses.”

There has been no federal or state provision to reimburseNew Hampshire  facilities for additional training of LNAs who have already earned their base license, Brendan Williams, president and CEO of the New Hampshire Health Care Association, told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News Tuesday. 

While more than 35 states already allow certified medication assistants to work in nursing homes, more facilities are depending on them to lighten the load for registered nurses. Facilities across the US have churned through licensed nurses in recent years, with many citing burnout as the primary reason for leaving either their job or the industry altogether.

Passing medication is a time-consuming mainstay of many RN’s jobs, leaving them precious little time to be at their patient’s bedside. Pennsylvania nursing home advocates are pursuing state approval for a med tech program with a bill introduced earlier this year. It could be passed during the current legislative session, which ends November 2024.

Florida lawmakers OK’d the addition of a med tech position for nursing homes earlier this year.

In New Hampshire, additional funding for medication assistant training would be welcomed, but Williams told the New Hampshire Bulletin that the bigger issue is Medicaid funding. 

“We’re at a tipping point here with the care economy, and the question is, you know, whether they’ll make the right investment and save it long term, or whether they’ll just let it continue to slide,” he said.

The New Hampshire House approved $134 million last month to boost Medicaid rates, but the Senate Finance Committee will vote in the coming weeks on its proposal to allocate just $119 million.