Efforts to Address Staffing Shortages and Agency Exploitation

Industry , Legislative ,

This information is provided by national senior living association partner, Argentum.

Argentum continues to prioritize addressing the industry’s workforce challenges, including the impact of staffing agencies on the workforce. The staffing shortages that existed prior to the pandemic have only been exacerbated by COVID-19, and more recently these shortages have repeatedly been negatively impacted by price gouging and other predatory practices of many staffing agencies that provide nursing and care services to senior living communities.

In many cases, staffing agencies throughout the country are charging three or more times their pre-pandemic rates and will “drop” an engagement from one provider to go to another provider that is offering more money, sometimes with no notice. We have also heard reports of numerous situations where staffing agencies will attempt to “poach” the staff of our senior living communities during resident care visits. Providers often have no choice but to pay these highly inflated rates and endure unsavory practices because of the workforce needs facing senior living.

Senior living is not alone in this unfortunate situation. Skilled nursing, hospitals, and other care settings face the same situation in relation to staffing agencies.

FEDERAL EFFORTS

On the federal front, Argentum is participating in a coalition of other senior living and long term care providers and recently joined together as part of a coalition in sending a letter to the Biden Administration calling for action related to staffing agency price gouging.

Similarly, a broad bipartisan coalition of more than 200 members of the House of Representatives, led by Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA), joined together in sending a letter to the Biden Administration requesting similar action. This is part of broader efforts underway in Congress with lawmakers looking into issues of pandemic-related price gouging throughout the economy, including hearings held last week in both the House and Senate to investigate COVID-19 fraud and price gouging. The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce held a hearing to consider H.R. 675, the COVID-19 Price Gouging Prevention Act, intended to prevent price gouging of consumer goods and services during a public health emergency. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security focused their hearing on end-consumer issues with counterfeiting (particularly face masks), state actions to prevent consumer exploitation, and federal oversight by the Federal Trade Commission.