Guest worker bill earns accolades for potential impact on nursing shortage

A recently proposed federal bill that would create a guest worker program has earned praise from the country's largest provider organization.

The “Willing Workers and Willing Employers Act,” proposed last Wednesday by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), would establish a 10-year pilot guest worker program for foreign workers who fall in the gap between visas for temporary, seasonal workers and highly-skilled immigrants. The program would only apply in counties and metro areas with less than a 5% unemployment rate, and require employers to seek a worker from the United States before hiring a guest worker.

The bill would also establish a flexible pay cap for registered positions ranging from $65,000 to $85,000 in order to meet economic demand.

Clifton J. Porter II, senior vice president of government relations for the American Health Care Association, applauded the bill for its potential to ease the skilled nursing workforce shortage with foreign nurses and other healthcare workers.

“Recruiting, training, and retaining caregiving staff are the biggest challenges facing skilled nursing care centers today,” Porter said in a press release. ““This bill creates a guest worker program with a smart, market-based approach that will meet the care needs of our residents and patients.”

The “Willing Workers and Willing Employers Act” has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.