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2 federal bills look to boost pipeline of healthcare workers

If passed into law, bills proposed in both chambers of Congress might improve the number of healthcare workers.

LeadingAge is behind both pieces of legislation.

The country’s lack of healthcare personnel is intended to be addressed via the bicameral Welcome Back to the Health Care Workforce Act. More specifically, the bill, which was presented by Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), would assist foreign-trained healthcare workers in overcoming obstacles to employment in the United States.

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

“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 legislation will ensure our healthcare sector is fully staffed,” Krishnamoorthi continued. 

A Stronger Workforce for America Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives, is an update to the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which streamlined federal workforce development programs. It aims to help lower-income job seekers with education and long-term career possibilities by offering training and support for a variety of training programs, including some for direct care and nurses.

The bill would also create a fund that states could use to reimburse employers for upskilling workers in priority industries chosen by the state, increase access to skill development services, streamline the list of eligible training providers, and improve workforce education programs at community colleges. The House Education and Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Ranking Member Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) originally introduced this legislation in December, stating that they were responding to employers who were having difficulty filling positions and meeting workers’ upskilling needs.

The McKnight’s Business Daily was informed by a LeadingAge representative that the organization is in favor of both bills “because they focus on strengthening the long-term care workforce through a range of mechanisms, including addressing domestic and international barriers to workforce development and providing wrap-around support services for healthcare professionals.”

“Policymakers should act on these bills to ensure that older adults and families can access the critical care and services they need to age with dignity,” the spokesman said, citing the association’s membership.

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