New Jersey Eases Nurse Licensing Laws Amid CNA Shortage in Nursing Homes

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on January 31 signed into law a bill that allows nursing aides with out-of-state certifications to use their licenses to care for people in the Garden State.

The bill was sponsored by Republican state Sen. Robert Singer.

“The number of job openings for certified nursing assistants is staggering,” Singer said in a press release. “There are more than 1,800 vacant positions in nursing homes throughout New Jersey.”

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Prior to the bill becoming law, nursing aides could not work in New Jersey if they happened to live out of state, he said in the same release.

The bill codifies out-of-state nursing aide reciprocity requirements into law and permits New Jersey’s State Department of Health to require certification of an individual to be accepted based on their work experience.

“I am pleased that our state is taking action to combat the nursing home job shortage by welcoming more qualified medical professionals to New Jersey,” Singer said in the release. “Increasing the supply of labor to meet a growing demand is a win-win for patients, families, and all of the over-stressed caregivers who desperately need help now.”

Staffing has become an area of scrutiny for nursing homes over the last few years for both providers and government regulators. In July 2018, The New York Times and Kaiser Health News found most U.S. nursing facilities have -over-reported nursing and caretaking staff and experienced staffing fluctuations for years. Less than a month later, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) hit nearly 1,500 nursing facilities with one-star reviews for low staffing coverage.

CMS began using payroll-based journal (PBJ) numbers from providers to rate staffing levels in April 2018 as part of updated reporting requirements for nursing facilities, and the agency is using that data to bolster state oversight of SNFs.