New bill supports programs, scholarships, training, more to create skilled, diverse healthcare labor force. The healthcare workforce shortage is gaining attention in Congress. Most recently, a bill that reauthorizes several health professions education and training programs from 2020 through 2024 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Michael C. Burgess (R-TX) sponsored the Educating Medical Professionals and Optimizing Workforce Efficiency and Readiness (EMPOWER) for Health Act (H.R. 2781). The bill is designed to help ensure that patients and communities nationwide have access to healthcare professionals, services, and supports by promoting an educated, skilled workforce. … [Read more...] about Lawmakers Acknowledge the Need to Boost the Healthcare Workforce
From staffing and sexual harassment to contract employees and discrimination reporting, statehouses and courts are moving forward on hot issues. It is important to keep your finger on the pulse of legislative action, both on the national and state levels. Currently, there is some action in Washington, D.C., and in some state capitals worth keeping on your radar. While these issues might not affect your organization directly right now, they are gaining traction across states and industries; and they could soon impact how you do business. Of greatest interest and significance on the state front is a Connecticut bill that just passed the Senate there. This legislation (Senate Bill 375) would mandate nursing homes to disclose daily the number of direct-care staff members that are assigned to patients. This measure is aimed at increasing transparency and encouraging facilities to hire more direct care staff. The bill passed 31-4, and now heads to the House. If this measure becomes law, … [Read more...] about Sweeping Legislative Changes Could Soon Affect You
Healthcare employees will be able to refuse some procedures, services due to faith-based objections. Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced the issuance of a final rule on conscience provisions that enables healthcare employees to refuse certain medical procedures—including abortion, sterilization, and even advance directives--if they have faith-based objections. This rule replaces a 2011 regulation that, according to HHS, “has proven inadequate.” The final rule clarifies what covered entities (including federal agencies and programs, as well as state and local governments receiving federal funds) need to do to comply with applicable conscience provisions and requires applicants for HHS federal financial assistance to provide assurances and certification of compliance. The rule also specifies compliance obligations for covered entities, including cooperation with OCR, maintenance of records, reporting, and … [Read more...] about HHS Issues Final Rule on Conscience Provisions
Higher staffing level thresholds could cause star ratings to plummet despite quality care. In March, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it was setting higher thresholds and evidence-based standards for nursing home staffing levels. Starting with April numbers, the agency will automatically give one-star staffing ratings to any facility that has four or more days each quarter with no registered nurse (RN) on site. This a significant drop from the previous standard of seven or more days. Now the real-world impact of this is starting to come to light, and it’s causing great concern. According to recent statistics, at least 550 providers could be affected, and it’s likely that the number ultimately will be higher. … [Read more...] about Facilities Brace for Star-Rating Declines under CMS Changes
HR leaders needs to look at how they address the safety, other needs of overweight employees. Statistics suggest that at least a small percentage of your employees are overweight or obese. Some of these individuals may qualify for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protections if their weight and related symptoms/problems “substantially limit a major life activity.” You need to know who qualifies for what protections and be prepared to provide these accordingly. Otherwise, you could leave your organization open to discrimination complaints. If an employee is obese and has associated problems—such as joint pain, mobility difficulties, shortness of breath, and/or diabetes, you need to implement a process to determine what accommodations may be needed or possible. Note that the underlying problems may be considered disabilities in their own right, regardless of weight issues; and the ADA considers those workers “regarded as disabled,” even if they don’t meet other criteria. … [Read more...] about Are You Following ADA Guidance on Obesity?
Know the laws and what you can do to avoid pay discrimination headaches…or worse. Earlier this month, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic published a message about equal pay and highlighted some significant recent legal cases. She started by observing, “What we know at the EEOC is that pay discrimination, the concept of ‘equal pay for equal work’ enshrined in the Equal Pay Act of 1963, is real. We see and bring the cases every year.” She noted that her agency garnered approximately $4.1 million in litigation for discrimination victims whose claims involved equal pay violations. Clearly, HR professionals need to stay on top of these issues so that they can attract and keep talent and avoid the expenses and headaches related to unfair wage claims. … [Read more...] about EEOC Acting Chair Offers New Insights on Pay Equity
As CMS moves forward on initiatives targeting safety and outcomes, HR can help teams thrive. In a recent blog, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Seema Verma detailed her commitment to maximizing safety and quality in long-term care. Her comments have triggered conversations about these issues; and they also present an opportunity for HR to get involved and promote safety and quality care in their organizations. Verma stated that her agency is “not settling for the status quo.” She said, “I have directed my team…to undertake a comprehensive review of our regulations, guidelines, internal structure, and processes related to safety and quality in nursing homes.” She talked about CMS’s “five-part plan to ensure the care provided in America’s nursing homes is of the highest possible quality.” This plan involves strengthened … [Read more...] about CMS Announces Enhanced Focus on Patient Safety, Quality of Care
A new person-centered reimbursement model is coming to SNFs, and you need to be on the ground floor for change. The Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM) is the new Medicare payment rule for skilled nursing facilities, replacing the current reimbursement system (called RUG-IV). PDPM represents a significant change and goes into effect on October 1st. While patients’ therapy minutes currently drive payment for SNFs, PDPM provides reimbursement based on the complexity of individual patients’ care needs as detailed in the primary and secondary diagnoses. Under this new system, HR takes on a heightened role in helping to ensure the organization’s success. … [Read more...] about What HR Needs to Know about PDPM
Stay on top of pressing state, local concerns impacting HR. A new study identifies the leading concerns for U.S. companies and how state and local lawmakers are addressing them. Not surprisingly, number one is sexual harassment prevention. State legislators everywhere are grappling with this issue in the workplace. In fact, there are a record number of state proposals on harassment, proposing solutions such as detailed arbitration agreements, expanded protections for non-employees, and stronger prevention efforts such as mandatory policies and interactive training. … [Read more...] about From Harassment to Health Care: States Confront Hot Issues
Don’t wait for an emergency to know ins and outs of FLSA, FMLA compliance. Hurricanes, tornados, floods, fires, blizzards. When disaster strikes, employers have a plethora of concerns. As HR, you need to think about Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) compliance; and you should be prepared to answer employees’ questions about how, when, and if they will be paid if there are evacuations or closures or they need to take time off. Nonexempt employees only have to be paid for the time they actually work. Therefore, if your organization is evacuated or closed and they don’t have to report to work, these workers don’t have to be paid. Exempt (salaried) employees, on the other hand, must be paid their full salary if they work any time during the week of a closure or evacuation. For instance, if everyone but essential staff are sent home on Wednesday because of blizzard and not required to report back to work until Friday, they must receive their full, … [Read more...] about When Disaster Strikes, Do You Have Answers Employees Need?