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Bill aims to address staffing shortage in Iowa nursing homes

Posted at 6:11 PM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 20:09:17-04

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Ia. (KMTV) - To address a staffing shortage in nursing home facilities, one Iowa bill proposes establishing a statewide database of information on direct care workers.

The system would include information on direct care workers' training, credentials, who they are, and where they are locally.

AARP Iowa's Advocacy Director Anthony Carroll says nursing homes over-rely on temporary staff. One statistic from the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 dashboard reports more than 42 percent of Iowa nursing homes have a shortage of direct care workers.

"Why aren't we doing a better job like we do other fields?" Carroll said. "Making sure we are capturing and have a very clear, statewide database of good information about what qualifications they have and where they are rather than saying, 'Help me fill this void today.'"

Iowa Health Care Association President Brent Willett opposes the bill because it places more burdens on everyday workers.

"What this is asking people to do is take ten percent of their day and input a bunch of information into a database that goes to a state agency. We have no demonstration of what they are going to do with that data," Willett said.

Willett says more resources are needed to provide additional wages to staff members.

"More than 50 percent of the residents and the revenue into a long-term care center comes by way of Medicaid. Our association is calling on the state legislature to fund Medicaid at its full capacity. That will require an investment of $31.5 million," Willett said.

Ultimately, Willett believes the shortage is a "human beings issue" and inputting information into a database is not the way to solve it.

"There's an appetite to do something about staffing shortages. What we need to make sure that the folks who are making these decisions on the House floor understand is this doesn't address that," Willett said.

The bill passed the House Human Resources Committee.