(a) VA will make payment under this part to a State for an employee incentive program to reduce the shortage of nurses at the SVH, when the following conditions are met:
(1) The State representative applies for payment in accordance with the provisions of § 53.20;
(2) The SVH receives per diem payments from VA under the provisions of 38 U.S.C. 1741 for one or more of the following: Adult day health care, domiciliary care, hospital care, or nursing home care;
(3) The SVH has a nursing shortage that is documented by credible evidence, including but not limited to SVH records showing nursing vacancies, SVH records showing nurse overtime use, and reports documenting that nurses are difficult to hire in the local area and difficult to retain as employees at the SVH;
(4) The SVH does not use payments under this part to pay for all or part of a nurse's standard employee benefits, such as salary, health insurance, or retirement plan;
(5) The SVH provides to the Director, Geriatrics and Extended Care Operations, documentation establishing that it has an employee incentive program that:
(i) Is likely to be effective in promoting the hiring and retention of nurses for the purpose of reducing nursing shortages at that home, and
(ii) Is in operation or ready for immediate implementation if VA payments are made under this part;
(6) The payment amount applied for by the State is no more than 50 percent of the funding for the employee incentive program during the Federal fiscal year;
(7) The SVH employee incentive program includes a mechanism to ensure that an individual receiving benefits under the program works at the SVH as a nurse for a period commensurate with the benefits provided, and, insofar as possible, the program is designed to eliminate any nursing shortage at the SVH within a 3-year period from the initiation of VA payments;
(8) The SVH, if it received payments under this part during a previous Federal fiscal year, has met the reporting requirements of § 53.31(a) regarding such payments;
(9) The SVH credits to its employee incentive program any funds refunded to the SVH by an employee because the employee was in breach of an agreement for employee assistance funded with payments made under this part and the SVH credits the amount returned as a non-Federal funding source; and
(10) The project does not involve the construction, acquisition, expansion, remodeling or alteration of the SVH.
(b) VA intends to allow flexibility and innovation in determining the types of employee incentive programs at SVHs eligible for payments. Programs could include such things as the provision of short-term scholarships for continuing nursing education, sign-on bonuses for nurses, student loan forgiveness programs, and improvements to working conditions. In determining whether an employee incentive program is likely to be effective, VA will consider any information available, including past performance of the SVH's program funded by payments made under this part.