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CNB Business News: NJBIA Testifies on Staffing for Nursing Homes

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NJBIA Vice President Mary Beaumont today submitted the following  testimony to the Assembly Human Services Committee regarding A-382, which establishes minimum certified nurse aide-to-resident ratios in nursing homes.
"On behalf of our member companies that provide more than 1 million jobs in the state and make the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) the largest statewide business association in the country, we respectfully OPPOSE Assembly Bill 382, sponsored by Assemblywoman Jimenez, which establishes minimum certified nurse aide-to-resident ratios in nursing homes.

"NJBIA recognizes that our nursing home and hospital members consistently strive to provide the highest level and quality of care to the patients and residents entrusted to their care. However, legislatively mandated staffing ratios are problematic in that they assume that all nursing home facilities are the same and do not take into account the experience or expertise of each facility's caregivers. Moreover, the New Jersey Department of Health has currently established overall nurse staffing levels in the nursing home licensing requirements. (N.J.A.C. 8:39-25.2).

"In addition, a shortage exists in the pool of qualified, certified individuals needed to perform the duties of a certified nurse aide (CNA) and fill the current number of open full and part-time positions in New Jersey nursing homes. Under this legislation, approximately 3,000 additional CNAs would need to be hired in order to meet the staffing requirements and be in compliance. Finally, this legislation would increase overall nursing home costs, at a time when rising healthcare costs continue to be a top concern for all NJBIA members.

"NJBIA places a strong and consistent focus on the quality and affordability of healthcare in our state, and there are ways to attract and retain a qualified workforce of CNAs that do not require artificial, restrictive staffing ratios. In our recent report, "The Education Equation," the Postsecondary Task Force recommended enhanced promotion of New Jersey's community colleges and vocational-technical schools, as well as the creation of new internship programs, job training opportunities, and apprenticeship programs.

"There is also the opportunity for New Jersey to establish CNA reciprocity, so that individuals certified in other states can obtain certification here. Without reciprocity, certified CNAs must retake and pay the cost for both a training program in New Jersey and the certification exam.

"Thank you for allowing NJBIA to present this information today, and for your consideration of our suggestions and concerns."