Bipartisan Letter from Nearly 200 Members of Congress Asks Feds to Crack Down on Traveling Nurse Staffing Agencies
Questionable practices from health care staffing agencies are continuing to draw the ire of Congress. In a bipartisan letter from the United States House of Representatives, nearly 200 federal lawmakers asked White House COVID-19 Response Team Coordinator Jeffrey Zients to have federal agencies investigate whether the conduct of traveling nurse staffing agencies is anticompetitive and/or violates consumer protection laws. Congressmen Ron Kind and Glenn Grothman joined the letter from Wisconsin’s congressional delegation.
The letter detailed concerns from members of Congress that nurse staffing agencies are using COVID-19 to drive up their profits at the expense of hospitals and the patients they serve. “We are writing because of our concerns that certain nurse-staffing agencies are taking advantage of these difficult circumstances to increase their profits at the expense of patients and the hospitals that treat them,” said the members in the letter. “We have received reports that the nurse staffing agencies are vastly inflating price, by two, three or more times pre-pandemic rates, and then taking 40% or more of the amount being charged to the hospitals for themselves in profits,” the letter added.
WHA members have noted similar practices in Wisconsin. As covered in a recent edition of The Valued Voice, the topic came up in a recent WHA briefing to congressional staff. Wisconsin systems are increasingly losing employees to traveling staffing agencies, only to find out they end up working at a neighboring hospital across town. Many hospitals have offered staff retention bonuses to encourage staff to stay, but this is increasingly driving up hospital costs and negatively impacting morale for staff who end up making less than agency staff that have significantly less experience at their organization.
WHA is continuing to follow this issue closely. Contact WHA Vice President of Federal and State Relations Jon Hoelter with questions.
This story originally appeared in the January 27, 2022 edition of WHA Newsletter