7 states considering legislation to prevent price gouging by staffing agencies

As staffing agencies come under fire for alleged price gouging amid the COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers are considering action.

In January, nearly 200 House members wrote to the White House urging an investigation into price gouging by staffing agencies, as did the American Hospital Association and American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living.

Seven states considering legislation targeting price gouging by staffing agencies:

Maryland

The Maryland Senate introduced a bill that would prohibit a person from selling an essential good or service during a state of emergency, plus 90 days after the emergency ends, for 10 percent more of the product or service's price before the emergency, which would apply to healthcare staffing agencies.

Idaho

A bill introduced Feb. 11 in the Idaho Senate would add healthcare staffing agencies as a category in a law that prohibits companies from taking advantage of a disaster or emergency by charging extreme prices.

Indiana

Indiana introduced House Bill 1332, which would consider price gouging to be in excess of three times the fair market value of the healthcare services by a healthcare employee or temporary worker. It would also prohibit a staffing agency from implementing fees, charges or commissions more than three times the fair market value.

Kansas

House Bill 2524 was introduced to the Kansas House and would require the secretary for aging and disability services to regulate supplemental nursing service agencies, or temporary employment agencies for healthcare facilities.

New York 

A bill introduced Feb. 5 in the New York Senate would amend the state's general business law as it relates to price gouging. It further defines "unconscionably excessive price" as "a price that is excessive as compared to the price at which the good or service was sold or offered for sale by the seller in the usual course of business immediately prior to the state of emergency." Under the bill, price gouging would be prohibited during periods of abnormal disruption of the market, including a local or national emergency.

Oregon 

Oregon lawmakers introduced a bill Feb. 23 that would require state officials to issue a temporary staffing agency license to qualified applicants, as well as maintain a list of temporary staffing agencies licensed in Oregon on a publicly available website. The bill also prohibits unlicensed temporary staffing agencies from operating and directs the Oregon Health Authority to adopt rules regulating temporary staffing agencies. Additionally, the bill establishes maximum rates that a temporary staffing agency may charge, considering industry standard workforce hourly wages and relevant geographic factors, and includes civil penalties for specified violations. 

Pennsylvania 

A bill introduced Jan. 27 in Pennsylvania requires temporary staffing agencies to register annually with the state and provide a list of each separate location. It also requires agencies to provide healthcare facilities with documentation that each temporary employee meets licensing or certification, training and continuing education standards for the position, among other rules. Regarding pay, the legislation prohibits agencies from billing or receiving payments from a healthcare facility at a rate higher than 150 percent of the sum of the average rate, plus a factor to incorporate payroll taxes, for the facility's location.

 

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