HHSC requests waivers to avoid potential health care staff shortages

HHSC requests waivers to avoid potential health care staff shortages
Texas HHS logo (Source: HHS social media)

AUSTIN, Texas (KCBD) -The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has requested a waiver to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that request flexibility that could increase the health care workforce.

Gov. Greg Abbott made that announcement Sunday afternoon.

The waiver is an effort to cut out some current regulations. The governor’s office says this is an attempt to stop staffing and resource shortages health care facilities could face as more people are admitted to hospitals because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We are committed to supporting our front-line medical workers and reducing regulatory burdens that could otherwise hinder their service to Texans,” Abbott said in a news release. “The waiver we are requesting will alleviate potential staffing and resource shortages and ensure our health care workers and facilities are fully equipped to provide care to Texans in need throughout the COVID-19 response.”

If this is approved the waiver would be in place for as long as necessary.

This could allow fully-trained and qualified nurse aids to provide home health and hospice services even if they have not been employed and paid as an aide within 24 months prior.

It could also allow non-clinical staffers to help with feeding nursing home residents without completing a required 16-hour training course. Group meals are not served because of social distancing, so more assistance is needed in that area, according to the governor’s office.

This could also allow those with intellectual disabilities in Home and Community-based Services and Intermediate Care Facility programs to temporarily receive same service in either setting.

No date was given on when this waiver could be approved.

“During this unprecedented public health emergency, we need to cut through the red tape and help bolster our health care workforce so that Texas can respond quickly to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak,” Phil Wilson, HHSC executive commissioner, said in the release. “We’re working closely with our federal partners and doing everything we can to make sure people get the help they need.”

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