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Underneath strike risk, nursing houses nonetheless awaiting $67 million in promised staffing grants

A December deadline to start distributing $67 million from the state of Michigan to nursing houses got here and went with zero {dollars} going to suppliers.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into legislation in February 2022 a complement to the state’s price range that supplied $300 million to healthcare services general for employees recruitment and retention. The $225 million designated for hospitals has been distributed, as has the $8 million for federally certified healthcare facilities which might be usually in rural areas.

However nursing houses’ funding — the remaining $67 million — continues to be sitting in state coffers, stated Melissa Samuel, president and CEO of the Well being Care Affiliation of Michigan. She stated the staffing grants are desperately wanted.

“There’s a substantial amount of frustration,” Samuel instructed McKnight’s Lengthy-Time period Care Information on tuesday. “Each nursing dwelling in Michigan has openings and the will to rent proper now.”

A spokeswoman for the Division of Well being and Human Companies stated it obtained requests for “a lot larger” than the $67 million appropriated and there was no timeline for when the overview course of would finish and distribution start.

The affiliation estimates that nursing houses have misplaced greater than 10,000 staff for the reason that begin of the pandemic in 2020. That loss is larger than another healthcare sector. The American Well being Care Affiliation reported this month that the nursing dwelling workforce nationally is on the lowest stage since 1994.

The state of affairs in Michigan might develop much more pressing within the coming weeks, as greater than 1,000 staff at 13 nursing houses within the state are threatening to strike over wages and advantages. Services can’t use any of the grant cash to rent non permanent staff if there are openings on account of labor disputes, based on the well being division memo.

The $300 million pledged final yr to Michigan’s healthcare sector was half of a bigger, $1.2 billion invoice designed primarily to assist colleges get well with in-classroom instruction. The cash originated from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

Nursing dwelling suppliers might apply for a grant and had been requested to submit a story of 5 pages or much less detailing a “cheap price range,” their location, and the way the cash can be used, based on an August memo from the state Division of Well being and Human Companies. The memo acknowledged that authorized services would obtain an “preliminary advance” of 25% of their proposal earlier than Dec. 1, 2022. The requests had been due by Aug. 31, 2022.

Services must submit month-to-month requests for his or her precise bills to obtain reimbursement, and reimbursement requests can be offset in opposition to the superior quantity till all prices related to the advance are balanced, based on the memo.

Nursing houses can’t use the staffing grants for money recruitment or retention bonuses, the memo famous.

“The funding was appropriated to fulfill an pressing want,” HCAM’s Samuel stated.

Samuel stated the business is doing every thing it will probably—together with modeling applications on what different states have carried out—to extend hiring and workers retention. Services have raised wages and elevated advantages packages, to the extent their already-tight budgets permit. Since 2019, Medicaid reimbursement charges have elevated by simply 5%, regardless of services dealing with elevated prices of 15% or extra, based on the HCAM.

Samuel stated the affiliation additionally hopes to safe $26 million in grants to create the Michigan Licensed Nurse Aide Funding Program to draw folks to expert nursing. Leaders are also encouraging services to be extra versatile in scheduling and to assist with ancillary advantages comparable to childcare.

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