Bill aims to address staffing shortage, create safer patient environments in health care settings

LANSING, Mich. — Today the Senate Health Policy Committee unanimously approved a bill introduced by Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D–Taylor), that would reinstate the Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) reciprocity policy, and update requirements for CNA registration and training.

Senate Bill 286 would ensure that the training standards received by CNAs from other states cannot be less than those of Michigan, and would require a CNA to pass a nurse aide training program and competency exam approved by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), or be in good standing in the bordering state — as verified through the state’s CNA registry.

“Preserving quality, safe patient care should always be a priority, and with this legislation, we have an opportunity to attract more qualified CNAs who will allow health care facilities to provide better care for their patients,” Sen. Hopgood said. “I’m most appreciative that my colleagues on the Senate Health Policy committee recognized how necessary and important this bill is, and voted in support of it.”

In 2001, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report that found that low staffing levels would put nursing home residents at risk. SB 286 would help to minimize that risk by allowing CNAs, with licenses from neighboring states, to work in Michigan under certain circumstances. It would also allow LARA to monitor and investigate issues that arise in any health care setting.

“Our facility is one of many that border another state, but with our proximity to Toledo, Ohio, the lack of reciprocity has overwhelmingly affected our ability to maintain staffing,” said Darrell Moore, Hickory Ridge of Temperance nursing care facility administrator, who testified in support of the bill on behalf of the Health Care Association of Michigan.

“Our screening process for potential residents in need of our services is also being reconsidered solely due to staff availability, as we currently need five full-time and 11 part-time positions to comfortably staff our resident population’s health requirements,” Moore said.

In Michigan, CNAs who work in long-term care facilities are regulated under a different set of guidelines than those who practice in hospitals and home-based settings. SB 286 would authorize CNAs to practice in a variety of health care settings, and update the statute so that all CNAs would be held to the same standards.

“It’s critical that we address the staffing shortage problem while ensuring patients receive nothing less than excellent care,” Sen. Hopgood said. “This bill would help implement a set of rigorous standards for the state’s CNA program, and ensure that necessary safety measures are in place for the more than 39,000 residents living in Michigan nursing homes.”

SB 286 now heads to the Senate for a vote.