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Hiring prospects are grim, according to HME Newspoll

Hiring prospects are grim, according to HME Newspoll

YARMOUTH, Maine – A whopping 90% of respondents to a recent HME Newspoll say they’re having difficulty hiring employees, an issue that’s exacerbated by existing struggles with low reimbursement. 

The largest percentage of respondents (72%) reported they’re having the most difficulty hiring entry level employees like customer service representatives. 

“With cuts in reimbursement over the years, compounded with massive audits and recoupments, there is not enough margin to hire quality employees at a competitive rate,” wrote one respondent. “As a result, to remain viable, we are having to move administrative work overseas. This industry is headed toward a collapse based on current reimbursement rates – it is not enough to pay for all the materials, equipment and staffing necessary to remain viable. The lowering reimbursement from Medicare and increasing audit activity is effectively forcing the loss of U.S. jobs in this industry.” 

HME companies aren’t alone, of course. Overall, there are about 3.5 million fewer people in the workforce today than there were in February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and new unemployment benefits were introduced. 

After entry level employees, respondents reported having the most difficulty hiring clinical staff (21%). A number of respondents noted a shortage of respiratory therapists, in particular. 

“RTs are leaving for short-termed, incentivized opportunities in other health care settings: hospitals, traveling jobs and physician offices,” wrote Dewey Roof of LifeHME in South Carolina. 

To improve their odds of hiring employees, 49% of respondents reported that they’ve increased pay, on average, 13.8%. 

“The labor ‘shortage’ is a supply and demand issue,” wrote on respondent. “The supply of labor is inelastic, but demand is high – that should lead, in an open market, to (wages) rising, which is exactly what we’re seeing. Businesses are having to pay their workers more, instead of complaining that they can’t find workers at artificially low wages. Our business offers competitive wages and good benefits, and we have zero problems finding employees.” 

Depending on a company’s business model, however, offering higher wages is a struggle, leading to a number of respondents reporting increased hours for existing staff and, often, management and ownership. 

“We, as a company, have pulled up our bootstraps and taken on more responsibility,” wrote Josh Miller of Transcend Medical in Alabama. “Even as an owner, I will do deliveries/service calls/pickups or other tasks as needed to help my employees and get the job done.” 

States that opt out of federal unemployment benefits related to the pandemic are doing companies that are looking to hire a favor, a number of respondents reported. 

“We are in dire need of employees and can’t even get applicants,” wrote one respondent. “The feedback I get from employees is that their friends are making more on unemployment during the pandemic and don’t plan to return as long as they’re receiving that money.” 


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