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With Kansas' long-term care facilities priced out of workers, advocacy groups want reform

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The hallway of a nursing home shows a man in a wheelchair moving away from the camera.
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Advocacy groups are calling on the Kansas Legislature to review Medicaid funding reimbursement rates for long-term care facilities, create an easier pathway to recruit and retain new staff, and to hold staffing agencies accountable for price gouging.

Some long-term care facilities in Kansas are closing or reducing the number of clients they can serve due to a shortage of employees. And while staffing agencies can help fill the void, one advocacy group says they're charging "extortionate prices for staffing."

Rachel Monger, the chief advocacy officer for LeadingAge Kansas, agrees with the idea that a "silver tsunami" is coming in Kansas, as the number of people aged 85 and older will increase by 260% in the years ahead.

Meanwhile, long-term care facilities, which commonly care for the aging population, are facing a shortage of employees, forcing some to close or reduce the number of certified beds available.

Temporary agencies are helping to place workers but Monger said homes are "paying staffing agencies, to us, extortionate prices for staffing."

Now advocacy groups are calling on the Kansas Legislature to regulate what they consider price gouging by the staffing agencies.

Monger and Haely Ordoyne joined Up To Date to discuss why the solution isn't as easy as raising employee wages, and why they're asking the Kansas Legislature to put a cap on staffing agencies' wage increases.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Elizabeth Ruiz is a freelance producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact her at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz
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