Hospitals and health systems have been sounding the alarm over workforce shortages for well over a decade, urging policymakers to take actions that incentivize workers to enter the field and ensure training opportunities for the next generation of caregivers to meet rising demand.  

The COVID-19 pandemic introduced new challenges for everyone, but particularly impacted frontline hospital workers. Today, hospitals are experiencing shortages of medical technicians, laboratory assistants, nurses, food service, housekeeping, and sanitation staff. In some instances, hospitals do not have enough staff to operate at full capacity. To ensure that patient care and general operations are not compromised, hospitals have been forced to increase their reliance on contract labor and staffing companies significantly. It has been widely reported that nurse-staffing agencies are exploiting the COVID-19 crisis with predatory price increases that can be disconnected from the wages paid to these contract nurses who provide needed clinical care to hospitals. Members in Congress – in bipartisan fashion – have expressed concerns over these practices and, in particular, worry that hospitals will be unable to sustain these exorbitant agency costs. We join those in Congress in urging the Administration to investigate nurse-staffing agencies’ conduct during the pandemic.

FAH is working with Congress and stakeholders to prioritize certain measures which would support frontline health care providers and maintain a strong workforce, including:  

  • Enacting the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act to recapture 25,000 unused immigrant visas for nurses and 15,000 unused immigrant visas for doctors that Congress has previously authorized and allocate those visas to international doctors and nurses 
  • Enhancing investment in provider loan repayment programs, including the Nurse Corps, to incentivize providing care in rural and underserved communities 
  • Enacting the Technical Reset to Advance the Instruction of Nurses (TRAIN) Act, which would prohibit the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from recouping overpayments made in past years to hospital-based nursing and allied health education programs when CMS failed to make technical annual updates to the program, and instead invest those resources in training the next generation of caregivers 
  • Ensuring that any policy that increases Pell Grant funding makes certain that nursing students are eligible to receive such benefits to attend high-quality nursing schools, regardless of the educational institution’s tax status 
  • Enacting the Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Reauthorization Act to extend and expand the Conrad 30 program.