Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are rigorously trained healthcare providers who play a critical role in patient care. With almost two million patients currently residing in nursing homes alone, the CNA is a highly sought after position by hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and home health agencies. If you are considering a new career or have graduated less than 12 months ago, find out how you may receive tuition, testing fees, and school incurred expense reimbursement that is protected by federal law.
Federal CNA Training Laws
Although your state CNA program may be longer in length and costs may vary, the Omnibus Act of 1987 stipulates that all nursing assistants in every state must receive a minimum of 75 hours of supervised training that includes:
- Formal classroom
- Manual skills laboratory
- At least 16 hours of clinical experience
Federal Law Requires CNA Program Reimbursement by Your State
If you accept employment from a Medicaid participating nursing home facility, you are entitled to the reimbursement of your CNA program, certification testing fees and possibly other related school expenses. Although some programs vary slightly by state, the common requirements that may qualify you for the Federal Medicaid CNA Reimbursement Program in your state of practice include the following:
- Completion of at least 75 hours of an accredited CNA program
- A passing score on your written and manual certification exam
- Employment in a nursing home or skilled nursing facility within 12 months of certification
- Pass a criminal background check at employment
Although all states are required to reimburse CNA program costs and testing fees, your specific state may also compensate you for other school expenses such as:
- Textbooks and learning materials
- School nursing uniforms and smocks
- Nursing equipment required for patient care
Nonparticipating Healthcare Employers
Only nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities qualify for CNA tuition reimbursement programs. Research your local nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities for the reimbursement policies for Medicaid at your state board of nursing or department of health services in your location. Healthcare facilities that are not required to participate in federally mandated CNA tuition reimbursement programs include some of the following:
- Hospice or adult day care settings
- Home health agencies
- Assisted living facilities
Work Requirements for CNA Tuition Reimbursement
Each state is permitted to handle the length of work requirements individually. For example, Michigan reimburses tuition and testing fees in installments over six months and requires the CNA to remain as an employee for the same period to receive full payment. However, a CNA can accept employment from another participating nursing home and receive the remainder of their tuition from the new employer.
Conversely, many Florida nursing homes that are bound by Medicaid laws provide tuition reimbursement in one lump sum and may not require a commitment from CNAs who have received tuition and school expense payment.
Research Your Options
To ensure successful reimbursement from your employer, contact your local nursing homes and find out their reimbursement policies. Many nursing homes across the country are seeking CNAs to ensure the best patient care and may provide exceptional benefits to persuade you to accept their employment offer. Ensure your eligibility for the program and save all your receipts, bills and other forms of school related expenses.