Nurse staffing agencies inflating prices, lawmakers allege, seek White House probe

Nearly 200 House members are urging the White House to investigate ballooning costs charged by nurse staffing agencies.

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and Morgan Griffith, R.-Va., led the initiative.

In a letter addressed to Jeffrey Zients, the White House COVID-19 response team coordinator, the lawmakers accuse nurse staffing agencies of taking advantage of the pandemic to raise prices and increase their profits.

The letter pushes the White House to use one or more federal agencies to determine if the staffing agencies' actions are the "product of anticompetitive activity and/or violates consumer protection laws."

Hospitals have been using external staffing agencies more frequently as they deal with a surge in COVID-19 cases and a dire workforce shortage. The average salary for a travel nurse varies depending on location, regional demand, hospital type and specialty, but compensation significantly increased compared to before the pandemic.

"The situation is urgent, and the reliance on temporary workers has caused normal staffing costs to balloon in all areas of the country," the letter states. "We have received reports that the nurse staffing agencies are vastly inflating prices, by two, three or more times pre-pandemic rates, and then taking 40% or more of the amount being charged to the hospitals for themselves in profits."

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