Healthcare Workforce Coalition Underscores Need for Health Worker Recruitment, Retention, & Safety Legislation in 2024

WASHINGTON – Launched in late 2023 in response to the escalating healthcare workforce crisis, the Healthcare Workforce Coalition continues to advocate for bipartisan legislative solutions to bolster and better support our nation’s healthcare workforce. Virtually every care setting, from hospitals to skilled nursing facilities, currently faces a severe shortage of nurses, physicians, and allied health professionals, ultimately creating unnecessary risks to patient care. Without urgent action from federal lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the problems plaguing America’s healthcare workforce will only worsen. Specifically, the coalition supports:

Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees (SAVE) Act (H.R. 2584 / S. 2768): The coalition urges Congress to quickly advance this bipartisan patient protection legislation in early 2024 to ensure that anyone who knowingly assaults a hospital employee or contractor and interferes with the performance of their duties would be subject to fines and up to 10 years imprisonment. Penalties would be increased to a maximum of 20 years should the attacker use a deadly or dangerous weapon, inflict serious bodily injury, or commit an attack during an emergency declaration.

“America’s health care workers deserve federal protections from workplace violence. Incidences of assault and intimidation continue to escalate and threaten the safety of our workforce as well as patient care,” said Stacey Hughes, AHA’s executive vice president. “Considering that, on average, two nurses are assaulted every hour in the U.S., the AHA is deeply committed to working with lawmakers in Congress to see the bipartisan SAVE Act become law.”

Healthcare Workforce Resilience (HWRA) Act (S.3211/H.R. 6205): The coalition is also advocating for the HWRA, which would allow up to 40,000 nurses and physicians who are currently unable to finalize their green card applications due to green card backlogs to live and work in the United States permanently. If passed, these visas would not be subject to the per-country limitations and would be issued based on how long the person has been on the green card waiting list. The bill would also instruct the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to expedite the processing of these applications and require employers to provide proof that hiring a foreign national has not and will not displace a U.S. worker.

“As our company works with hundreds of healthcare organizations across the U.S., we see first-hand how organizations are struggling with the labor shortage, so we commend Congress for reintroducing the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act,” said Kara Murphy, President of PRS Global. “This legislation simply “recaptures” a portion of the previously allotted immigrant numbers that went unused over the past two decades because of government delay.  Recouping these numbers and allocating them to nurses and doctors makes sense for the labor market and the healthcare of all patients.”