Four lawmakers call for Biden administration probe of healthcare staffing firms’ ‘extreme prices’

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November 19, 2021

A bipartisan group of four US legislators called on the Biden administration to investigate reports of “extreme prices” charged by nurse staffing firms amid the pandemic.

They brought their concerns forward in a letter this week to Jeffrey Zients, Covid-19 response team coordinator at the White House.

“We have received anecdotal reports that the nurse staffing agencies are vastly inflating price, 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,” according to the letter.

Signing the letter were Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Arizona; Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana; Rep. Doris Matsui, D-California; and Rep. David McKinley, R-West Virginia.

It called for the administration to look into:

  • Is this activity the product of anticompetitive activity?
  • What is the ownership structure of these staffing agencies and is there evidence of price collusion or other anti-competitive pricing patterns?
  • Does this activity violate consumer protection laws?
  • Are these increased rates translating to higher pay for contract nurses?
  • What impact have these price increases had on rural and underserved areas?
  • Have nurse staffing agencies increased their own percentage of profit during the Covid-19 pandemic? If so, by how much?
  • How much of the Covid-19 relief funds are directly or indirectly going to pay these contracts?
  • How may the 100% cost share for FEMA reimbursement be contributing to the ability of the staffing agencies to extract higher payment?

Crisis rates charged healthcare staffing buyers were also discussed during SIA’s Healthcare Staffing Summit earlier this month, with concerns that staffing firms were being scapegoated for the high rates. The California Hospital Association has also called for regulators in that state to look at pricing.

Overall, staffing rates in some sectors and areas have been volatile amid the Great Resignation, according to reports.

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