Legislation that would establish a home care standards board in Nevada is winding its way through the Nevada State Senate and drawing heat from an association representing 30 personal care agencies. 

Senate Bill 340 — known as the Nevada Home Care Workforce Safety and Standards Act — was introduced a little over a month ago to improve quality of care and working conditions for home care workers. The proposal calls for a standards board to conduct investigations into the employment of home care workers, make recommendations regarding a minimum wage and adopt regulations.

The Personal Care Association of Nevada (PCAN) is fighting the measure. PCAN didn’t respond to McKnight’s Home Care Daily for comment. However, a representative for the association told a Nevada Senate committee earlier this month the board is unnecessary and the proposal assumes the industry is “operating under questionable practices affecting the health and safety of employees.”

“The state needs to work with the Division of Public Behavioral Health to assure regulations in place are reinforced, not revise the entire Chapter,” said PCAN representative Connie Mullen.

But Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1107 told McKnight’s Home Care Daily the legislation is crucial in order for Nevada to meet the growing demand for care workers.

In a statement SEIU Local 1107 said, “SB 340 would give care workers and consumers a seat at the table, along with elected officials to address pressing issues like wages, benefits, the number of hours clients receive, and job training to improve standards of care.”

Like many states, Nevada is in the midst of a  growing caregiver crisis. According to a report issued last year by the Guinn Center, a public policy institute, Nevada has about 13,000 personal care workers but will need another 5,300 in the next five years. At the same time, Nevada was also ranked 31st in the nation for median income among care workers. Last year, in the wake of a pandemic-related budget crisis, the state cut the Medicaid personal care service rate to $16.52 an hour — the lowest level since 2003.