A small group of diverse medical staff stand around together in the hallway of a hospital as they have a brief meeting to discuss a patient case. They are each wearing scrubs and name badges as they focus on the conversation.
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Bills introduced in both houses of Congress may bolster the healthcare workforce if they become law.

Both pieces of legislation are supported by LeadingAge.

The bicameral Welcome Back to the Health Care Workforce Act is meant to address the shortage of healthcare workers across the country. Specifically, the legislation would help internationally educated healthcare workers overcome barriers to working in the United States, according to Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), who introduced it.

“At a time when I’m hearing from hospitals and other healthcare employers about how difficult it is to find workers, we should be making it easier for these individuals to enter the healthcare workforce,” Kaine said in a statement.

Krishnamoorthi added that the legislation would “ensure our healthcare sector is fully staffed through supporting community partnerships, streamlining licensing and credentialing for qualified healthcare workers trained overseas, and expanding opportunities to address classroom and clinical instructor shortages.” 

“The Welcome Back to the Health Care Workforce Act aligns with our commitment as a profession to supporting innovative approaches to solving the ongoing health care workforce shortage. We welcome the opportunity to grow our workforce with international caregivers who have a passion for healthcare,” Clif Porter, senior vice president of government relations at the American Health Care Association, told the McKnight’s Business Daily . “What remains important is that we have education and resources available to support the development of all professionals who seek to build a career in long-term care.”

Update to 2014 act

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has passed A Stronger Workforce for America Act. The legislation updates the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which streamlined federal workforce development programs. It would provide training and support for a multitude of training programs, including some for direct care and nurses, in an attempt to help  lower-income job-seekers with education and long-term career possibilities.

The bill also would establish a fund by which states could reimburse employers for upskilling workers in priority industries selected by a state, provide increased access to skill development services, streamline the eligible training provider list and enhance workforce education programs at community colleges.

“A Stronger Workforce for America Act is aptly named: it will help build a pipeline of talent for many professions that our nation needs, including long term care. We are proud to support a bill that promotes investment in America’s workers in all walks of life, from youth programs to reentry to the workforce,” Porter said.” The long term care workforce was significantly impacted by the pandemic—more than any other health care setting—and a recent poll shows that 99 percent of providers still have open positions. A Stronger Workforce for America Act is a positive step towards closing that workforce gap.”

This legislation originally was introduced in December by House Education and Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Ranking Member Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-VA). The representatives said at the time that they introduced the act in response to employers struggling to fill jobs and to meet the upskilling needs of workers. 

A spokesperson for LeadingAge told the McKnight’s Business Daily that the association supports both pieces of legislation “because they focus on strengthening the long-term care workforce through a range of mechanisms, including addressing international and domestic barriers to workforce development and providing wrap-around support services for healthcare professionals.”

Members of the association, the spokesperson continued, “urge policymakers to take action on these bills to ensure that older adults and families can access the critical care and services they need to age with dignity.”