Nursing home worker helps a resident stand up
Credit: Adene Sanchez/Getty Images Plus

Industry and policy experts are demanding more from lawmakers as the long-term care workforce nears a 15-year low. 

“Lives are literally at stake because of the healthcare workforce shortage, and many regulations are needlessly making this worse,” Rachel Greszler, labor policy analyst for The Heritage Foundation, said Thursday. 

Her comments came while testifying during a hearing on the healthcare workforce shortage held by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions. 

January data released this week by the Bureau for Labor Statistics showed that nursing homes added 2,100 jobs for the month, which was the first month of job growth for the industry since July 2019. Despite those gains, nursing homes have lost 15% of  total workforce since the start of the pandemic. 

The number of employees at nursing and residential care facilities is the lowest it’s been in 15 years at about 2,968,100 overall employees. That’s the lowest since bottoming out at 2,924,900 in January 2007. 

“Without action from policymakers, our nation’s most vulnerable seniors risk reduced access to care as facilities are forced to limit admissions or even close down altogether,” the American Health Care Association said in a statement.

“Before any more long term-care facilities have to limit admissions or close their doors, lawmakers should provide our frontline caregivers with the resources they need,” the association added.

Greszler echoed an ongoing concern of many providers in offering Congress her advice.

“Congress should immediately stipulate that vaccine mandates are decisions for healthcare providers and state and federal policymakers should reduce burdens to better respond to Americans’ increasing healthcare needs,” she testified.