Horsford bill would bolster pay for nursing home workers

Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., speaks during during a get-out-the-vote rally Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in Las Vegas. Horsford is running against Republican Sam Peters. (AP Photo/John Locher)

By Casey Harrison

April 15, 2024

Amid wide turnover in the home care and nursing care industries, a new bill seeks to provide workers with increased pay and benefits.

A new federal proposal from Nevada US Rep. Steven Horsford seeks to provide funding for states to support nursing home workers in a bid to keep qualified staff from leaving for other lines of work.

The so-called Nursing Home Workforce Support and Expansion Act, if passed, would provide states with grants for workers in post-acute and long-term care facilities. The grants would be provided to states or territories based on the populations of adults over 65 and people with disabilities, as well as to tribal organizations through a consultation process.

“Long-term care workers face low wages and challenging work conditions,” Horsford said in a release last week. “I’ve seen the difference that high-quality care can make. My grandmother spent nearly 30 years in a nursing home after a debilitating stroke.

Horsford continued: “This legislation will invest in our care workers in nursing homes across the country so they can retain their skilled workers, while also expanding the workforce by attracting new individuals to the field.”

Horsford argued that since the COVID-19 pandemic, long-term care facilities have been losing qualified staff to other industries that have higher wages and better benefits, with turnover as high as 128%, according to a 2021 study by the National Library of Medicine.

Turnover, Horsford said, makes it difficult for facilities to provide quality care.

Under the bill, funding would be used to provide wage subsidies to workers in post-acute and long-term care positions; as well as provide student loan repayment or tuition assistance for long-term care workers and those training for the profession. The bill would also mandate funding be used on child care and transportation assistance for employees.

The bill could also allow officials to establish a fund for providing in-kind resource donations, as well as supporting some employers to offer at least two weeks of paid leave annually.

Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, an association of nonprofit providers of nursing care, said in the release the bill could be a boon for the industry at a time when workers are vitally needed.

“At a time when demand for long-term care in nursing homes and other care settings is growing rapidly, America’s long-term care workforce challenges must be addressed,” Smith Sloan said.

Horsford introduced a bill with the same name in 2021, but it ultimately stalled in committee. It’s unclear the future for this version of the bill, which was co-sponsored by Rep. Danny Davis (D-Illinois) and introduced Wednesday to the House Ways and Means Committee.

Along with LeadingAge, Horsford’s bill has been supported by the National Center for Assisted Living and the Service Employees International Union, which represents more than one million doctors, nurses, and nursing home workers across 29 states.

“Without staff, there is no care,” Smith Sloan continued.

  • Casey Harrison

    Casey Harrison is political correspondent for The Nevadan. Previously, he covered politics and the Oakland Athletics' relocation to Southern Nevada for the Las Vegas Sun, and before that, was a digital producer at The Detroit News. Casey graduated from Michigan State University in 2019.

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