Proposed Bill Would Bolster Nation’s Nursing Home Workforce, Fight Staffing Shortage

America’s nursing home industry is profoundly broken.

Now infested with private equity and investment firms, it’s been radically altered from one built on a primary purpose of caring for the elderly and those with physical, cognitive, and special needs into one designed to profit and benefit shareholders.

This is evident in the fact that while the industry has blossomed into a $34-billion-dollar behemoth, facilities across the country – many now owned by financial institutions and speculators – have struggled to attract, hire, and retain qualified staff and improve quality of care. In fact, the industry has been fighting an unprecedented staffing shortage, prompted when nearly a quarter million nursing home workers left the sector between 2020 and 2023.

A newly proposed bill is looking to change that.

About the Nursing Home Workforce Support and Expansion Act

Proposed by Representative Steven Horsford (D-NV), the Nursing Home Workforce Support and Expansion Act is a U.S. House bill that aims to inject $1.6 billion into the nation’s nursing home workforce.

Per the Act, funding would come from the federal government in the form of workforce grants to states, U.S. territories, and tribal governments based on their population of seniors and people with disability. These grants – which would total $400 million over each of the next four years – would be used to bolster pay, benefits, education, and retention improvements.

In announcing the measure, Horsford stated that the Act would address difficulties facilities face in retaining workers by providing wage subsidies to keep nursing home wages competitive with other sectors and competing industries and ease some of the challenging work conditions staff face. It would also require any state or government entity that receives grants to fund student loan and tuition assistance, guarantee affordable childcare, and subsidize worker transportation costs, and give them discretion in how they use funding for the creation of emergency funds, subsidized paid leave, and resources like legal counsel to lower barriers of entry into the long-term care workforce.

Eligible workers under the bill include, among others, certified nurse aides, licensed practical nurses, social workers, and anyone in training for certification in those roles.

While the bill has vocal critics – including, investment-backed providers that fear having to increase spending to implement new rules and programs – it also has many supporters. This includes LeadingAge, a non-profit advocate for nursing home care, whose CEO commented on the proposal:

“Without staff, there is no care. This bill … will get us one step closer to an America that values older adults and those who serve them.”

Fighting for Nursing Home Residents & The Bigger Picture

Brown & Barron, LLC is a nationally recognized trial practice with a legacy for helping seniors and families fight for justice after suffering losses due to nursing home abuse and neglect.

Having seen the impact staffing issues can have on nursing home residents, we strongly support efforts intended to address the need for better and more qualified staff. However, we have also seen how the financial industry has fundamentally changed how senior homes operate and care for residents and that their focus on profits has had clear and tragic consequences, ranging from chronic understaffing and neglect and increases in cases of abuse to rampant resident wandering and preventable deaths.

As such, we believe it remains as important as ever to continue pushing for meaningful legislation that rectifies the larger problem – that is, how current laws allow investment firms and speculators to own and operate nursing homes in ways that are undoubtedly harmful to residents, and profit as a result. While some progress is being made in the form of an expected nursing home staffing rule that would require around-the-clock registered nurse coverage and an hourly minimum wage standard, we’re aware that this is also a complex predicament with parties that wield considerable power and influence over our laws and lawmakers. Still, it is a fight worth fighting.

As we continue to advocate for improvements in the nursing home industry, our award-winning attorneys remain committed to holding corporations accountable when their prioritization of profits over people causes harm. If you have questions about a case involving nursing home abuse or neglect anywhere in Baltimore or the state of Maryland, we can help.

Call (410) 698-1717 or contact us online to request a free consultation.

Cropped shot of a female nurse hold her senior patient's hand
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