U.S. Reps. Fred Keller (R-PA) and Susan Wild (D-PA) joined together Thursday to reintroduce the Nurses CARE Act for the 117th Congress. This bipartisan bill seeks to ensure that long-term care facilities can maintain adequate staffing levels by allowing temporary nurse aides to retain their certification status after the COVID-19 emergency declaration has been lifted.

In response to COVID-19, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued Section 1135 waivers to provide states with greater flexibility to direct personnel and resources to patients in need. Although this regulatory flexibility has helped prevent healthcare shortages by enabling the employment of temporary nurse aides to offer care during the pandemic, it is set to expire when the national emergency declaration is lifted.

If passed, the Nurses CARE Act would provide states with the flexibility to offer on-the-job experience as a partial substitute for certification courses and other evaluations.

“The coronavirus pandemic has changed so much about how we deliver healthcare at nursing homes, long-term care centers, and skilled nursing facilities,” Keller said. “Congress must act swiftly to protect our seniors, and that includes shoring up the workforce pipeline for essential healthcare workers who have answered the call during the pandemic.”

“Since this pandemic began, so many have joined our nursing homes and long-term care facilities in their hour of extreme need — and they deserve their work and on-the-job training to be fully recognized,” Wild added.