The pandemic overloaded hospitals with increased patient volume, and after almost two years of battling COVID-19, health care worker burnout is at an all-time high. As a result of burnout, the healthcare industry is suffering from worker shortages, especially among nurses. Nursing shortages are straining hospital profitability, care delivery, and efficiency. Competition for labor will likely continue even after the pandemic. The healthcare labor shortage has attracted significant interest from venture capital. Venture capitalists are pouring millions into new healthcare worker staffing platforms. This week, a proposed measure was filed with the California attorney general’s office that could be on the ballot for the state’s voters this fall. The proposal seeks to classify certain healthcare workers as independent contractors, so that workers can find work online or through apps. The proposal to include health care in the gig economy presents the question of whether nurse staffing platforms will be the next Uber.
Since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, hospitals have faced strict and substantial regulations regarding the provision of financial assistance to patients in the form of “charity care.” An essential element in a hospital’s ability to maintain tax-exempt status and financial solvency, charity care has worked to serve uninsured and indigent patients while helping charitable hospitals serve their mission and retain the benefits that come with it. The state of Pennsylvania recently passed legislation requiring more explicit and affirmative acts to provide charity care to more eligible patients. The change is unprecedented, and other states look to be slowly responding in their own ways. Compliance with these changes is most beneficial with proactive measures and risk assessments even before change comes through the doors.