The high stakes of healthcare worker misclassification

From McKights Long-Term Care News, Tom Daschle discusses the increase in the misclassification of nurses with the rise of staffing platforms. Tom writes:

Today, with the rise of tech-enabled staffing platforms, many nurses are improperly working as “independent contractors,” or 1099 workers. This is particularly true in assisted living, nursing homes and other long-term care settings that are dependent on temporary staff to fill staffing gaps. These 1099 nurses don’t enjoy basic employee rights, such as healthcare benefits, overtime and minimum wage protections.

They are also often underinsured and lack the required level of professional liability insurance and/or workers’ compensation coverage. And given the inherent constraints of the independent contractor model, also lack the required level of training and support, which poses a high level of risk to themselves and the patients they serve.

The recent shift toward tech-enabled staffing platforms has been driven largely by our healthcare workforce crisis. Already this year, the Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which has jurisdiction over workforce issues, held a hearing to examine where we are today as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and not surprisingly, they found little improvement.

On the contrary, unprecedented patient demand during the pandemic only exacerbated our workforce needs. Between March and April 2020 alone, we lost 1.5 million healthcare workers. And, despite steady growth in registered nurses over the years, the supply of registered nurses decreased by over 100,000 in 2021 – the largest decline we’ve seen over the past four decades. 

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