With COVID hospitalizations jumping 41% in just November and adding to already-high inpatient censuses, many are finding it necessary to fill workforce gaps by working with staffing agencies. Rising utilization of agency staffing is not only contributing to rapid wage inflation, but is also exacerbating workforce shortages as employees leave hospitals and health systems to make more money at temporary staffing agencies.
WHA has been working on multiple strategies at a state level to provide needed workforce relief to Wisconsin health care facilities, including urging the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) to renew a cost-sharing program when agency staffing
must be utilized and working with the Wisconsin Department of Safety Professional Services (DSPS) to expedite health care licensure
. WHA has also helped elevate its members’ concerns about post-acute care bottlenecks and has worked with members to ensure effective communication and problem-solving to provide health care to 13,000 guests at Fort McCoy and minimize reliance and stress on hospitals in that area.
WHA has also been in regular contact with Wisconsin’s federal delegation, urging members to support hospitals and health systems given the growing workforce challenges and making them aware of the strain the temporary nurse staffing agencies are putting on staffing costs and morale. This week, a bi-partisan group of four members of Congress authored a letter
sent to the White House urging action to address a situation that is unsustainable. The letter asks the Biden administration to review the activities and structure of these staffing agencies for potential anticompetitive behavior, such as price collusion, and to see if they violate relevant consumer protection laws. The letter also requests information on how much of the COVID-19 relief funds and Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) reimbursement may be directly or indirectly going to pay the higher wages associated with these traveling staffing agencies.
WHA continues to work with its members and state and federal partners to search for and implement strategies to address new and urgent workforce shortages. Contact WHA Senior Vice President of Workforce and Clinical Practice Ann Zenk
or Vice President of Federal and State Relations Jon Hoelter
to discuss workforce issues or to share topics to address.