Minnesota has passed a law curbing the amount of pay temporary nursing agencies can pay nurses who work part time to fill in the gaps in nursing home schedules.
The law says temp agencies can charge no more than 150 percent of the average wage nursing homes charge their own nurses. For many temporary nurses, this means a big pay cut, and has led several state temp agencies to file a federal lawsuit against the state.
Perhaps the law should be struck down. It is a bad solution to a problem that has been created because of the state's refusal to recognize the inequity of its own nursing home compensation rates.
The fact is, almost all nursing homes in the state rely on government compensation for their services, and the government keeps strict control of how much nursing homes get. This in turn forces nursing homes to keep a tight rein on how much they pay nurses.
As they find it harder to keep staffing levels high, nursing homes have to turn to the temp agencies. These nurses come at a higher cost, in part because they don't get benefit packages. But the nurses can work their own schedule and they can make more money working fewer days. It doesn't take long for full-time nurses to figure this out, too, and perhaps some of them opt to work through the temp agencies. The state sees this cost rising, and passes a law limiting the pay for temps.
If the state really wants to limit nursing homes reliance on temp agencies, perhaps it should give nursing homes the ability to pay their regular nurses a decent wage, one high enough to attract and keep a full staff.
-- The Journal of New Ulm
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