MDH Confirms Continuation of Nursing Assistant Training and Competency Waiver

With the end of Minnesota’s Peacetime Emergency, our team has been closely tracking how the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) will manage the transition from various COVID-19 related waivers. Last Friday, we received the welcome news that a Minnesota statute addressing nursing assistant training and competency will continue to be waived, so long as CMS continues to waive the related federal requirement.

All care centers should have received a GovDelivery notification directly from MDH on this topic, and we are publishing that notice here for those who may not have seen the announcement.

Nursing Assistant Registry Waiver Information
To help nursing homes address staffing shortages during the pandemic, CMS provided a blanket waiver for the nurse aide training and certification requirements at 42 CFR §483.35(d) (except for requirements that the individual employed as a nurse aide be competent to provide nursing and nursing-related services at 42 CFR §483.35(d)(1)(i)), specifically to permit nurse aides to work for longer than four months without having completed their training.

This waiver allowed facilities to employ individuals beyond four months in a nurse aide role, even though they might have not completed a state-approved Nurse Aide Training and Competency Evaluation Program (NATCEP). The individual could continue to work as long as the nursing home ensured that the nurse aide could demonstrate competency in skills and techniques needed to care for residents.

Minnesota Statutes, section 144A.61, subdivision 6a follows the equivalent federal requirement that nurse aides complete an approved training and competency program within 4 months of employment.

However, Minnesota Statute, section 144A.10, subdivision 13 notes: “Because any disruption or delay in the training and registration​ of nurse aides may reduce access to care in certified facilities, the commissioner shall grant all possible​ ​waivers for the continuation of an approved nurse aide training and competency evaluation program or nurse​ aide training program or competency evaluation program conducted by or on the site of any certified nursing​ facility or skilled nursing facility that would otherwise lose approval for the program or programs.”

Accordingly, Minnesota Statute, section 144A.61, subdivision 6a is hereby waived as long as the Federal 1135 blanket waiver is in place. While we anticipate the federal waiver end date is coming, we are uncertain of the date at this time.

Stakeholders should be advised, the four-month regulatory timeframe will be reinstated immediately when the Federal 1135 blanket waiver ends. Nurse aides will have the full four month period starting from the end of the Federal 1135 blanket waiver to successfully complete the required training and certification, regardless of the amount of time worked during the time the waiver was in effect.

While nurse aides will have up to four months from the end of the blanket waiver to complete the required training and certification, MDH strongly encourages providers and nurse aides to explore ways to complete all the training and certification requirements as soon as possible.

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