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

LANSING, Mich. — Today the House Health Policy Committee met to hear testimony on a bill sponsored 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 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 House 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. Coincidentally, the Detroit Free Press analyzed federal health and safety inspection data, and found that nearly one-quarter of Michigan’s nursing homes were cited for serious violations in 2017.

SB 286 would help to minimize that risk by allowing registered CNAs to work in Michigan under certain circumstances. It would also allow LARA to monitor and investigate issues that arise in any health care setting.

“Hospitals, medical facilities and nursing homes across the state are seeing an increased demand for the care provided by CNAs,” Rep. Winnie Brinks (D–Grand Rapids) said. “From the Medical Mile to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, we need more certified nurse aides who can keep up with demand. This legislation will ensure that we can hire more registered professional staff that we need to provide the best patient care.”

For an individual to practice as a CNA in Michigan, they must be registered through LARA after meeting the following requirements: they have submitted an application for registration to LARA; paid the necessary fees; and demonstrate that they have successfully completed a CNA training program and passed a competency exam approved by the department.

“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.