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LeadingAge NY Working on Several Fronts to Address Workforce Shortages

LeadingAge NY has been working on many fronts in the past week to help members address workforce issues. In response to the last-minute additions to the nursing home and adult care facility (ACF) Health Emergency Response Data System (HERDS) surveys on Fri., Oct. 8th, LeadingAge NY sent a letter to the Governor's Deputy Secretary for Health and the Acting Executive Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Health (DOH), highlighting the need to balance data collection with needs of residents during a staffing shortage. We asked them not only to avoid making changes to the surveys without notice, but also to modify the questions to collect data that would accurately represent reductions in staff, to reduce the frequency of the surveys, and to reduce the number of questions. 

Last Thursday, Karen Lipson spoke at a meeting of DOH's Public Health and Health Planning Council (PHHPC), emphasizing the staffing crisis in comments on the proposed minimum nursing hours and minimum spending regulations for nursing homes. The PHHPC members were appropriately concerned about the staffing shortage and even expressed hesitation with approving the proposed regulations once they return to the Council for approval. Following the meeting, LeadingAge NY issued a press release pointing to the PHHPC's consideration of the proposed staffing regulations, the associated workforce challenges, and the general lack of support from the State throughout the pandemic. A recording of the meeting is available here, and the segments on the minimum spending and minimum nursing hour regulations begin at around 36:12 and 1:15:00, respectively. Our written comments are available here.

We have also reached out to DOH leadership to discuss their plans for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Nursing Home and Long Term Care Facility Strike Team and Infrastructure funding. This may provide modest resources to address staffing shortages in facilities. Furthermore, we wrote last week to the Commissioner of Health expressing concerns with staffing shortages in home and community-based services (HCBS) and urging the State to provide financial support to recruit additional workers, to expedite distribution of HCBS enhanced federal Medicaid matching percentage (eFMAP) funding, and to return to the COVID-19 flexibilities afforded to providers during the state Public Health Emergency.

In addition, we are convening a joint LeadingAge NY cabinet workforce task force to develop a multi-pronged workforce strategy. We are also keeping legislators informed about conditions in the field and are asking members to do the same. We have created talking points that members may use when meeting with state senators and Assembly members and will be circulating them shortly.

Contact: Karen Lipson, klipson@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8838