LeadingAge Promotes Workforce Legislation

Legislation | April 16, 2018 | by Barbara Gay

The long-term services and supports field faces a growing workforce crisis, as the pool of potential workers shrinks at the same time that more people are aging into needing our services. LeadingAge is backing several bills to help alleviate the shortage.

The Improving Care for Vulnerable Older Citizens through Workforce Advancement Act, H.R. 3461, would establish demonstration projects to test the use of direct-care workers - nursing assistants, home health aides, or personal care aides - in advanced roles. These demonstration projects would study care coordination and improved delivery of health services for older adults with chronic illness or at-risk of re-hospitalization.

The demonstration projects would be funded through the Older Americans Act. Two projects would incorporate direct-care workers into interdisciplinary care coordination teams to promote smooth transitions in care and help to prevent unnecessary hospital readmissions. Two projects would focus on maintaining and improving the health status of older adults with multiple chronic conditions and long-term care needs. Direct-care workers will help monitor health status, help consumers follow prescribed care, and educate the consumer and family caregiver(s). The remaining two projects will train direct-care workers to take on deeper clinical responsibilities related to specific diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

The Direct Creation, Advancement, and Retention of Employment (CARE) Opportunity Act, H.R. 3778, notes the growing need for direct care workers, as cited by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Academy of Medicine. The legislation would establish grants under the Department of Labor for demonstration projects on the recruitment and retention of direct care workers and the expansion of career advancement opportunities for them.

The Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act, H.R. 3351, would provide up to 8,000 employment-based immigration visas per year for nurses, physical therapists, and other health care workers. This legislation would help to ease the present nursing shortage by allowing more of these health care professionals to fill job vacancies here in the United States.

We are urging  members of Congress to cosponsor these bills to move them forward in the House. You can help by using the sample letter to ask your House member to cosponsor these measures to address one of the most serious challenges facing our field.