IL House Human Services Committee Working on Ways to Attract Long-Term Healthcare Workers

By Benjamin Cox on February 13, 2024 at 5:56am

State lawmakers in Springfield are attempting to come up with solutions to fix the state’s long-term healthcare worker shortage amid a tough jobs climate.

The House Human Services Committee held subject matter hearings during the first week of the Spring Session to discuss strategies to strengthen the long-term care workforce.

Deputy Republican Leader Norine Hammond of Macomb told members of the committee that this is a struggle that doesn’t have a direct solution: “This is as if a company or a business creates a new department, but in fact, there’s no workers to fill that department. The struggle we are facing with this industry, this business in the State of Illinois is we are crying out for CNAs and for nurses, and I don’t know where they are. Are they in other states because they are getting better reimbursement? I suspect so. Are the dollars being absolutely gobbled up by agency staffing because that’s a better bang for that individual’s buck?”

Hammond says it’s no longer a time for half measures by the state to help ease the shortage: “If we are really going to truly get to the meat of this, we’ve got to stop nibbling around the edges, and we’ve got to get to the absolute middle of this and do a better job. Because right now, those people either don’t exist, they are in other states, or they are going through agencies.”

Two-thirds of states, including Illinois, reported the permanent closure of at least one Medicaid-supported home and community-based provider during the Covid-19 pandemic, citing workforce shortages as one of the primary reasons for closure. Nearly half-million nursing home workers left the profession during the height of the pandemic.