Estes bill seeks to address nationwide shortage of certified nursing assistants

U.S. Rep. Ron Estes (R-KS) is the lead original cosponsor of a new bipartisan bill to allow nursing homes that have met quality standards to resume previously penalized and suspended in-house certified nursing assistant (CNA) education programs.

“This bipartisan legislation ensures nursing homes continue to meet high standards without losing staffing levels that are needed for quality care,” Rep. Estes said, adding that the proposed bill would “help address critical shortages of CNAs, especially in rural areas, by allowing nursing homes to resume CNA education programs faster.”

Rep. Estes on Sept. 24 introduced the Nursing Home Workforce Quality Act, H.R. 4468, with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA).

Under current law, nursing homes that receive a certain number of penalties for program quality issues have a two-year mandatory suspension placed on in-house CNA certification programs, according to information provided by Rep. Estes’ office.

If enacted, H.R. 4468 would permit suspensions on in-house CNA education programs to be rescinded once the deficiencies are assessed and determined to be corrected. At the same time, additional oversight of the facilities would be required that would not exceed the original two-year suspension, according to the information.

The legislation is supported by LeadingAge Kansas, a Topeka-based association of nearly 160 not-for-profit aging services providers dedicated to serving the needs of aging residents in Rep. Estes’ home state.

“We have a workforce crisis in senior care. As our older population expands, so will our workforce challenges,” said Debra Zehr, CEO of the association. “We are grateful to have a bill that faces our nurse aide training needs head-on, while also upholding nursing home quality standards. We thank Rep. Estes for supporting strong, common-sense solutions to improve the well-being of older Kansans.”