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NJBIA: Staffing Ratios Bill Does Not Account for Nurse Aides Shortage

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The New Jersey Business & Industry Association today urged the Senate to vote down legislation, (S-1612), that would mandate staffing ratios at nursing homes because the law would be impractical due to the current shortage of certified nurse aides.

"A shortage exists in the pool of qualified, certified nurse aides (CNA) needed to fill the number of open full and part-time positions in New Jersey nursing homes," NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Chrissy Buteas said. "However, under this bill, approximately 3,000 additional CNAs would need to be hired in order to meet the staffing requirements and be in compliance.

"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," Buteas said.

The shortage of CNAs should be addressed by following some of the recommendations in NJBIA's Post-Secondary Education Task Force report, which called for enhanced promotion of the job-training opportunities available at New Jersey's community colleges and vocation-technical schools, as well as the creation of new internship programs, job-training opportunities, and apprenticeship programs.

Another way to boost CNA staffing ratios would be to allow certification reciprocity with other states, so that individuals with out-of-state CNA certifications do not have to pay to take a training program and exam in New Jersey in order to work in nursing homes here.

In addition to being impractical, the legislation is also unnecessary, Buteas said, because the Department of Health already has the legal authority to set overall nurse staffing levels in nursing home licensing requirements.