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A proposed bill would create a tax credit for direct care workers in assisted living and other long-term care settings that are located in opportunity zones.

The Reginite Hope Act, HR 4520, introduced by US Rep. John James (R-MI), would make “critical employees” eligible for a $3,500 tax credit for working at a job site located in such a zone. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act created the opportunity zones to spur investment in distressed communities.

The credit would apply to certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses or registered professional nurses, as well as personal or home care aides, who work in assisted living communities or nursing homes. The bill also targets law enforcement officers, firefighters, rescue squad crewmembers and childcare providers.

“Critical employees” must have worked full time at their employers for at least 75% of the taxable year.

The bill also would expand and make permanent a child tax credit provided in the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act to $4,500 per child aged fewer than six years and $3,500 for children aged six or more years.

According to Argentum’s Workforce Projections for Senior Care report, the senior living industry will have three million job openings by 2040, and long-term care overall will have 20 million openings. Argentum said that it supports the bill as part of its broad workforce development efforts to meet the service and care needs of the growing older adult population.

“Since the start of the 188th Congress in January, we have continually educated Capitol Hill on the impacts of the long-term care workforce shortage and championed a number of legislative solutions to resolve the crisis,” Argentum Senior Vice President of Public Policy Maggie Elehwany told McKnight’s Senior Living. “This bill is an important part of the solution, and we encourage the House to pass it this year.”

A spokeswoman for the National Center for Assisted Living said that the bill, if it becomes law, will help rebuild the long-term care workforce by helping attract and retain caregivers.

“We proposed providing tax credits for licensed healthcare professionals, along with support for affordable child care, in our reform agenda to improve the workforce crisis, and we’re glad to see members of Congress advocate for similar policies,” the spokeswoman told McKnight’s Senior Living. “While this is a great step forward, much more is needed in order to address a looming caregiver shortage.”

The reform agenda, in the form of the Care for Our Seniors Act, was put forth by NCAL’s companion organization, the American Health Care Association, and LeadingAge and focused on nursing homes.