Michigan needs more people working as nurses, but it’s become harder to find them. This has led to an increase in hospitals using travel nurses and the companies who staff them.
Because of the increase in demand, staffing companies can charge high prices and travel nurses are making a lot of money. Hospitals and nursing homes would prefer to pay less money for this service, so they are supporting House Bill 6364 which would limit how much these temp agencies can charge.
According to Crains Detroit Business, two states have similar legislation in place and 15 more are considering it. Travel nurses are now nearly 40% of hospital nursing budgets. Hospitals and nursing homes are pushing for caps on what they have to pay.
This is a bad bill that will only make the nursing shortage worse. What hospitals pay for nurses is based on supply and demand — fewer nurses means they have to pay more for the ones available. This bill will not affect demand and, in fact, will only decrease supply by limiting what agencies can charge, which means fewer of them will find it worthwhile to supply nurses. Not a bad deal for some hospitals and nursing homes, but a bad deal for nurses and patients.
What can be done? Well, lawmakers should look to ways to increase the supply of nurses. They could make it easier for out-of-state nurses to work in Michigan. (A bill to do so was vetoed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.) They could make it easier for nurses in other states to move to Michigan and begin working, by eliminating the unnecessary steps they currently have to go through. And lawmakers could radically reform the “scope-of-practice” rules for nurses, which are among the most stringent in the nation, so nurses could do more than they are currently allowed.
If lawmakers want more nurses and lower medical costs, they need to make it easier for people to work in that field. Price caps won’t do that — reforming regulations will.
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