Providers Push Feds for More Support in Hiring Foreign Workers Amid Workforce Crisis

McKnight’s Long Term Care News / By Danielle Brown
Amid an ongoing push for legislative fixes that could bring more immigrants into the healthcare workforce, the nation’s two largest nursing home associations are pursuing a regulatory course too.  
Representatives with the American Health Care Association and LeadingAge on Tuesday met with the Department of Labor in an effort to get the agency to reconsider its denial to speed up the prevailing wage determination process for foreign-born registered nurses.
The prevailing wage rate is the average wage paid to similarly employed workers in a specific occupation in an area of intended employment. Physical therapists and RNs are “Schedule A” occupations — meaning there aren’t a sufficient number of US workers who are able, willing, qualified and available to fill them. 
Employers who want to hire a person for these jobs aren’t required to conduct a test of the labor market or apply for a permanent labor certification with the labor department. They instead must apply for “Schedule A” designation by submitting an application for permanent labor certification.
The groups had called on the labor department to create a streamlined category for “Schedule A” instead of lumping all of the cases together with those from a permanent labor certification program, according to Andrea Price-Carter, LeadingAge’s director of workforce and technology policy. 
Providers have cited the occupancy shortage among RNs as to why a quicker process was needed in order to help solve the ongoing workforce crisis.
The groups specifically asked if regulatory action could be used to address the issue and the agency agreed that a regulatory process could be put in place but didn’t commit to making changes, Price-Carter said. 
“DOL also shared how much they appreciated the opportunity to hear about these issues in greater detail, and highlighted the Office of Foreign Labor Certification is investing additional staff to address the increase in demand for prevailing wage determinations,” Price-Carter said.

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