Federal Bill Could Beef Up State Funding for LTC Workforce

Four members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill this week which aims to provide a financial boost to wages and benefits for long-term care workers.

The Nursing Home Workforce Support and Expansion Act — which was introduced Tuesday by Reps. Steven Horsford of Nevada, Barbara Lee of California, Steve Cohen of Tennessee and Jamaal Bowman of New York — is included in the Elder Justice Reauthorization and Modernization Act of 2021, which was brought to the hill earlier this month.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the strain on America’s long-term care workers, who faced low wages and challenging work conditions even before the current crisis,” Rep. Horsford stated in a press release. “The Nursing Home Workforce Support and Expansion Act will invest in long-term care workers — who are overwhelmingly women of color — to help nursing homes retain their vital skills while expanding the workforce by attracting new and diverse talent.” 


The bill would fund grants given to states based on the number of adults they have over 65 and individuals with disabilities.

According to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care’s (NIC) most recent survey of skilled nursing and senior living executives, 93% of the organizations reported that they were experiencing staffing shortages.

States that receive funding must use it for employee wage subsidies, student loan repayment or tuition assistance, and childcare and transportation cost assistance to eligible workers. 


The funding could also be used to establish a reserve fund for emergency financial assistance, provide in-kind resource donations, provide assistance with activities designed to lower barriers to employment and support eligible employers in offering not less than two weeks of paid leave per year.

Rep. Horsford noted the legislation “will help the long-term care industry be competitive in the job market,” highlighting the existing concern that nursing homes are losing qualified staff to other industries with higher pay and better benefits.

Employees in nursing and residential care facilities made on average $21.04 per hour in June — compared to $19.43 in February 2020, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The Nursing Home Workforce Support and Expansion Act will help long-term care providers recruit and retain much-needed care professionals, leading to better care for millions of older Americans,” Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge stated in the press release in support of the bill.

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) also endorses the bill, according to its website.

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