PHCA Offers Health Care Workforce Solutions to U.S. Senate HELP Committee
Harrisburg, PA (March 21, 2023) — In response to the U.S. Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee’s request for information on how to address the workforce crisis in health care, the Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA) submitted a letter Monday examining the root causes of the crisis and included solutions on how the federal government can help long-term care address staffing challenges.
During a hearing in February, the HELP Committee announced their commitment to address the workforce challenges experienced throughout the entire health care continuum. No sector has been hit harder than long-term care, particularly nursing homes where, as of December 2022, 210,000 jobs were vacated since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee followed the hearing with a request for feedback to learn more about staffing issues and solutions. Recognizing the absence of input from long-term care providers during the hearing, PHCA was motivated to provide the committee with historical background that has led to the current workforce crisis and feasible solutions that can address the need.
“It is extremely promising to see the initial steps taken by elected leaders at the federal level, acknowledging our workforce challenges and committing to help address them,” said Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association. “The first step that should be considered is not instituting any harmful regulation that will only further exacerbate the workforce crisis and expand access to care limitations. We must all work together to develop solutions that can truly sustain care.”
In the letter to the committee, PHCA offered numerous solutions for the committee to consider. At the top of the list, PHCA warned of the implications a federal staffing mandate could have on care and advised against an unfunded and unattainable staffing mandate for nursing homes. Pennsylvania has already approved new regulations that will soon be implemented to increase staffing minimums, create a more robust change of ownership process, and institute accountability measures that will ensure more funding is going to bedside care.
Other solutions include a focus in K-12 education on “careers of compassion,” funding programs that develop caregivers, especially those needed to certify caregivers, expanding H-1B visas for foreign health care workers, and support in overcoming a one-sided, negative narrative that surrounds long-term care and discredits the work of caregivers.
To read PHCA’s letter to the Senate HELP Committee, click here.