March 31, 2023

Missouri latest state to introduce legislation to curb travel nursing rates

By: Tarsilla Moura

Editor's Note

The state of Missouri is the most recent state—out of 11—to propose legislation and/or regulations to curb or cap “price gouging” on travel nursing from healthcare staffing agencies, USA Today March 16 reports. The proposed legislation out of Missouri would reportedly allow for felony charges to be brought against “agencies that substantially raise their prices during a declared emergency.”

While third-party travel nursing and other temporary staffing measures have previously been used by hospitals, the COVID-19 pandemic greatly exacerbated the need for staffing support, which led to some agencies almost tripling their usual rates. By December 2021, “the average weekly travel nurse pay in the country had soared to $3,782, up from $1,896 in January 2020,” noted the article. Some temp nursing positions, such as traveling intensive care unit nurses, were costing hospitals “$10,000 a week during the worst of the pandemic, prompting burned-out nurses across the country to leave their hospital staff jobs for more lucrative temporary assignments.”

This state-level legislative activity is not the first crackdown attempt on healthcare agency price gouging. In February 2021, the American Hospital Association called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate anticompetitive pricing by agencies; in 2022, hundreds of lawmakers reportedly called on the White House to do the same. “No substantial federal action has occurred, so states are trying to take the next step,” the article added.

According to USA Today and the American Staffing Association, other recent state legislative activity includes a bill to “cap on the amount staffing agencies can charge healthcare facilities out of New York and a measure to “allow civil penalties against such agencies” out of Texas.

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