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National CNA Association Reacts to CMS Comments on Vaccine Mandate

NAHCA Remains Committed to CNAs and Residents

August 26, 2021
President Biden’s recent COVID vaccine mandate for skilled nursing facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid payments has spurred considerable conversation and debate. Many high-profile officials are weighing in with support of this policy. NAHCA reiterates their commitment to CNAs and residents alike.
On Wednesday, August 25th, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) held a nursing home stakeholders call to discuss the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for nursing home staff. On that call the deputy director of CMS’s Center for Clinical Standards and Quality Jean Moody-Williams indicated that the vaccine requirement would “really level the playing field.” The National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA), in fact, believes it would do the opposite. Leveling the playing field would mean requiring all Medicare- and Medicaid-certified health care entities to mandate the vaccine. This is important as some health and hospitals are already advertising to recruit staff on social media indicating “vaccine optional.”
“In addition to non-vaccine requiring health care employers poaching the staff from nursing homes, nursing homes frequently send their residents out to hospitals and treatment centers; and without blanket health care vaccination requirements, the residents could be exposed by a non-vaccinated health care worker in one of those settings,” said Lori Porter, Co-Founder and CEO of NAHCA. “Only requiring nursing homes to mandate is like trying to fix your broken bicycle while riding it. Residents will be exposed and continue to bring the virus back into the nursing homes.”
One CMS official on the recent provider call said that “those who are looking for a workplace without a vaccine mandate are running out of options.” NAHCA also disagrees with this assessment. In reality, Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) aren’t running out of options at all.
In fact, as Ms. Porter noted, “Many employers in other sectors such as retail do not require the vaccine, they pay more than the CNA starting wage; and some have also enhanced their benefit packages to include enticements such as college tuition and health care insurance. So CNAs have options in other sectors, and we must be prepared to lose many dedicated professionals.”
The nursing home staff vaccine mandate is clearly intended to protect the residents, but it falls short of doing so due to the patchwork of vaccine requirements among employers. NAHCA believes that it ultimately will jeopardize the residents by creating an even greater shortage of CNAs available to provide the life-sustaining care they so desperately need and deserve – yet still expose vulnerable residents to COVID-19.

NAHCA Responds to POTUS Decision to Mandate Nursing Home Staff Vaccinations

August 20, 2021
While we recognize and understand the reasons behind President Biden’s decision, mandating all nursing home staff to be vaccinated is only part of a complex issue that must be addressed. Nursing homes are now allowing visits from families, volunteers, and vendors, many of whom may not be required to be vaccinated. Ensuring the safety of residents would include vaccination mandates among these groups as well.
We believe that credible education and open dialogue with trusted individuals, as well as addressing the underlying issues that CNAs have faced for the entirety of their careers, will give them more confidence in the vaccines. Taking these steps will help to mitigate the impact on an already unstable workforce.
Our members remain loyal to serving and protecting vulnerable elders and those with disabilities. Whether they choose to be vaccinated and stay in their profession or remain unvaccinated and leave, either choice is about protecting residents.

NAHCA’s Statement on Nursing Home Improvement and Accountability Act of 2021

August 16, 2021
The National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) thanks Senators Wyden, Casey, Blumenthal, Bennet, Whitehouse, and Brown for introducing the Nursing Home Improvement and Accountability Act of 2021. The basis of this legislation is to increase transparency, accountability, and oversight in nursing homes; improve staffing; and support innovation in the structure and culture of these facilities, all of which have never been more critical.
NAHCA specifically supports the bill’s references to raising staff wages, improving quality care due to increased staffing, and creating approaches such as staff-investment demonstration programs to bring new solutions to complex issues. We are pleased to see the legislation call for Congress to invest $50 million to study the appropriateness of establishing minimum staff-to-resident ratios in skilled nursing and updating those standards every five years.
It is important to note that COVID-19 has exposed the persistent staffing crisis and spotlighted the urgent need to increase direct caregiver staffing in America’s post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) centers, and time is of the essence for such solutions. This legislation, as it is currently written, does not address the need for timely results. In fact, the standards it proposes could take nearly three years to be enacted; and it is unclear if there would be funding to support these standards and initiatives to recruit and retain high quality staff. NAHCA urges Congress to make solving this staffing crisis a top priority, including the enactment of long- and short-term solutions and the coordination of a national strategy to recruit new health care professionals into the workforce.
Our certified nursing assistant (CNA) members take pride in their profession and welcome Congressional action that supports their efforts. They hope to be included in conversations about these critical issues moving forward.

NAHCA Issues Statement on COVID-19 Vaccinations for Certified Nursing Assistants

August 12, 2021
Following much deliberation and consideration about COVID-19 and the rise of its variants, the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) remains divided on the issue of supporting across-the-board vaccine mandates for all aging services employees. While NAHCA urges all frontline staff caring for elders to get vaccinated, the organization also recognizes the significant division on the question of vaccinations among its membership.
As the only national organization that represents Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), NAHCA and its Board of Directors acknowledges that there is solid evidence to support the safety and efficacy of the vaccinations. However, among NAHCA’s membership of more than 26,000 CNAs, a significant number remain hesitant to get vaccinated. Following are the underlying reasons for this hesitancy:
  • Insufficient efforts to educate and build confidence in the vaccine among the public, as well as among frontline staff;
  • Confusing and mixed messages from leadership at federal, state, and local government entities;
  • Widespread lack of support throughout the pandemic in the form of PPE and other measures that could have better protected CNAs and the elders they care for;
  • Chronic underfunding and understaffing in nursing homes that sometimes leads to substandard care and difficult and dangerous working conditions; and
  • A long history of poor benefits and pay that in many cases do not amount to a living wage.“We recognize and respect employers’ rights to require COVID-19 vaccines for its employees, as long as they are implemented in accordance with federal and state laws and adhere to appropriate exemptions for those with medical conditions or religious objections,” says Sherry Perry, chair of the NAHCA Board of Directors. “However, it is our position that more must be done not only to address CNAs’ concerns about the vaccine, but also to improve the underlying issues that these dedicated frontline care staff have faced for the entirety of their careers.”NAHCA believes that by addressing these issues through credible education and open dialogue with trusted individuals and entities, more CNAs will be inclined to be inoculated. The organization is committed to building confidence in the vaccines among CNAs through the following efforts:
    1. The creation of educational resources in consultation with thought leaders in the field who are committed to sincere and substantive dialogue with CNAs;
    2. Strategic communication tools, such as videos and testimonials that tell the stories of CNAs’ journeys from hesitancy to vaccination;
    3. Research aimed at building vaccine confidence and raising immunization rates among frontline health care staff.
“It’s about time for employers, payers, and policy makers to recognize that marginalizing CNAs for so long has its consequences,” adds Lori Porter, NAHCA founder and CEO. “In this case, those consequences have led to mistrust of those in authority and confusion around what is best for CNAs and for the elders they serve. Is it any wonder that so many are hesitant about getting vaccinated?”

NAHCA’s Lori Porter Issues Statement Following Senate HELP Committee Hearing on Workforce Shortages in Health Care

May 21, 2021
The National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA), representing more than 26,000 certified nursing assistants (CNAs) working in America’s post- acute and long-term-care (PALTC) settings, applauds the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) for their May 20 hearing addressing critical workforce shortages in many health care professions and settings.
The following statement is attributed to Lori Porter, co- founder and CEO of NAHCA, regarding the hearing:
“We at NAHCA, would like to thank Sens. Bernie Sanders
and Susan Collins for convening such an important
discussion regarding widespread staffing issues in
hospitals, nursing homes, and other PALTC settings. I am
especially grateful to Sen. Collins for mentioning the need for more nursing assistants and expressing concern about how low Medicaid reimbursements rates greatly impede health care settings’ ability to secure adequate skilled professionals such as physicians, CNAs, and other caregivers. Yesterday’s hearing was a good start toward addressing important workforce issues surrounding our entire health care system. We believe there is much more to the story regarding this growing crisis, especially with regard to CNAs and other frontline staff. It is our hope that Congress will do what is right and soon hold hearings that focus on these skilled professionals, who play an integral role in rendering care in settings that care for our nation’s elders.
“Our CNA members have been on the frontlines of the global COVID-19 pandemic for more than a year, handling over 90% of the direct patient care. Their work has a significant impact on quality of life for those in their care. The CNA shortage in PALTC settings is massive. It was massive before the pandemic and COVID has made it worse. This must be addressed, and CNAs must be a priority for those on Capitol Hill in order to ensure quality care for our nation’s most frail. CNAs deserve more than only being mentioned one time in a nearly two-hour hearing about ‘dire workforce shortages.’ CNAs, like other health care professionals, need to be included in all dialogue moving forward.”
For more information on NAHCA’s position on the CNA workforce shortage and proposed solutions to resolving it, please contact Dane Henning, director of government affairs at dhenning@nahcacna.org.
Also, below is the link to the HELP committee hearing. https://www.help.senate.gov/hearings/a-dire-shortage-and-getting-worse-solving-the-crisis-in- the-health-care-workforce

Statement from the NAHCA Board of Directors

February 9, 2021
In recent months, there has been much talk about the contribution of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) during the pandemic. However, seldom are those working in hospice and home health mentioned. The Board of Directors of the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) would like the public to know how essential hospice and home health CNAs are to this profession.
There appears to be a misconception that these professionals are not on the frontlines fighting Covid-19 and risking their lives as CNAs in other healthcare settings do. We as an association want all CNAs to get the appreciation and respect they deserve.
“Those working in hospice and home care put their health and safety aside to go into homes, as well as healthcare settings, to provide care or give comfort in the final days and moments of life,” said Sherry Perry, chair of the NAHCA Board of Directors. “They are on the frontlines like the rest of us. We are all in this together!”

NAHCA Board of Directors Makes Statement on CNA Duty During Pandemic

December 23, 2020
The Board of Directors of National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) made the following statement on each Certified Nursing Assistant’s (CNA’s) role and responsibility during the COVID-19 pandemic: “The Board of Directors of The National Association of Healthcare Assistants supports and encourages all CNAs to follow all COVID-19 safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19. … (read more)

Lori Porter’s Statement on Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes Report

9/17/2020
The following is a statement from Lori Porter, Co-Founder and CEO of the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA): The release of the Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes report represents a significant accomplishment for the stakeholders involved in creating it and for the entities involved in bringing it to fruition. It was truly an honor to serve on this panel with such esteemed individuals. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a voice for certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and to bring to light the many issues confronting them as they continue to work on the frontlines in a battle against COVID-19 and beyond.
Although I support this report, I have done so with reservations about the Workforce Ecosystem. Specifically, NAHCA supports government funded staffing requirements for CNAs in nursing homes. … (read more)

Grabowski to Present at First-Ever CNA Staffing Summit

9/20/2020
The National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) and CNAs for Quality Care will hold the first-ever CNA Staffing Summit on Oct. 20, 2020, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, David Grabowski, Ph.D., will present the state of the research on COVID-19 and direct care staff. Since the outbreak, Grabowski has extensively studied the virus’ impacts on nursing homes, testified twice before Congress, written op-eds, and served on the Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes. … (read more)

Rick Matros to Present at First-Ever CNA Staffing Summit

9/20/2020
The National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) and CNAs for Quality Care will hold the first-ever CNA Staffing Summit on Oct. 20, 2020, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern. This virtual event will convene nursing home operators, administrators, nursing staff, directors of nursing, HR professionals, recruiters, and more so that everyone can learn from CNAs — as well as from each other—with the objective of creating a more unified workforce. Chairman and CEO of Sabra Health Care REIT … (read more)

CNAs Represented on Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes

5/14/2020
The National Association of Health Care Assistants, NAHCA, an organization with over 20,000 members working as CNAs primarily in the nation’s nursing homes and long term care facilities, issued the following statement after MITRE released the appointed members of the newly- formed Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes. … (read more)

Mark Parkinson Gives CNAs on the Front Lines a Video Message

4/5/2020
Mark Parkinson, President and CEO, American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, and the former governor of Kansas. I know as a former Governor, when you are in a crisis you need people to step up. You need people to be heroes, and I’m here today to join NAHCA and  all of our friends at NAHCA to say, Our Frontline caregivers you are CNAs, you are our heroes. … (listen here)

CNN Investigative Report on Sexual Assault in This Nation’s Nursing Homes

2/23/2017
The National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) is saddened and sickened by the CNN investigative report on sexual assault in this nation’s nursing homes. As an organization promoting on- going education and a CNA Code of Ethics, NAHCA is resolute in the fight against resident abuse of any form. NAHCA supports the Elder Justice Act and the maximum punishment for those committing any form of abuse and those failing to act on resident complaints of abuse. … (read more)