States and long-term care providers would receive additional funding to hire and retain workers under a new measure proposed by Democratic lawmakers. 

The legislation, called the Nursing Home Workforce Support and Expansion Act, was introduced in the House Tuesday by Reps. Steven Horsford (NV), Barbara Lee (CA), Steve Cohen (TN) and Jamaal Bowman (NY), and aims to strengthen wages and benefits for long-term care workers. 

The nursing home industry has seen significant jumps in salary for both nursing home leaders and nurses due to industry-wide staffing shortages.

Under this proposal, states would be provided grants to support long-term care workers. The amounts available would be based on a state’s population of adults over age 65 and people with disabilities. 

Specifically, states would be required to use the money to provide wage subsidies to employees in post-acute and long-term care settings, student loan repayment or tuition assistance, guarantee affordable and accessible childcare and transportation assistance to eligible workers.  

The legislation would also allow funding to be used to establish a reserve fund for emergency financial assistance, provide in-kind resource donations, provide assistance with activities designed to lower barriers to employment and support eligible employers in offering no less than two weeks paid leave per year. 

“Direct care workers are the heart of aging services, and the COVID pandemic has underscored the need to invest in this essential workforce,” Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, said in a statement. 

She added the proposal will help providers “recruit and retain much-needed care professionals, leading to better care for millions of older Americans.” 

LeadingAge, along with the American Health Care Association, in the past has pushed for more funding to help providers address staffing challenges exacerbated by the pandemic. They have criticized other recent legislation that would increase staffing requirements without providing a permanent funding mechanism.