How family members are filling nursing gaps

The national nursing shortage is prompting some states to tap family members to provide home-based care for children with complex health needs.

CMS has permitted states to offer home health services for children with medically complex conditions under Medicaid since October 2022. The goal is to increase access to care and support for families of children with serious health concerns such as cerebral palsy or cystic fibrosis.

However, the national nurse shortage is hindering states' ability to provide home-based skilled nursing care. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows 193,100 openings for registered nurses and more than 209,000 openings for nursing assistants in the U.S.

Now, a handful of states are working to close this care gap by allowing family members to become certified nursing assistants or home health aides to provde in-home care for children covered under Medicaid. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 391 into law June 2, creating the Home Health Aide for Medically Fragile Children program. The program allows family caregivers to receive training as a home health aid and be reimbursed by Medicaid for care provided to those 21 and younger with certain health needs. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed similar legislation into law July 3. 

Other states with similar programs include Arizona, Colorado, California, Indiana, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

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