Iowa bill would cap amount travel nurse agencies can charge hospitals, nursing homes – KCRG

DES MOINES, Iowa (Gray Television Iowa Capitol Bureau) – A former travel nurse says a bill in the Iowa legislature could cap their pay and make the nursing shortage worse. Supporters says travel nurse agencies are reaping big profits off the backs of Iowa taxpayers.
“The last thing we need to do is to shoot ourselves in the foot over agency workers, says Andrew Craig, a former travel nurse who is now a recruiter.
Craig says he has concerns with House File 2391, which passed the House last week. It seeks to cap the amount that travel nurse agencies can charge hospitals and nursing homes at 150% of the statewide average wage for that particular nursing role.
Craig says if the bill becomes law, fewer nurses will want to come to Iowa. “It’s already challenging enough to fill permanent nurse positions, and it’s equally as challenging to fill agency nurse positions. And so yeah of course this will affect nurses and their desire to come to Iowa because Iowa isn’t really a place that people want to come to anyway,” Craig said.
70% of Iowa medical facilities are struggling to find nurses. They often turn to travel nurses, who work on short term contracts, to fill the gap.
Brent Willett with the Iowa Health Care Association points out that what providers can charge to the state is regulated, but travel nurse rates are not. “We think healthcare employment agencies are healthcare employers just like nursing homes and hospitals and clinics, and they should be regulated in the same way,” Willett said.
Willett says if signed into law, the bill could bring savings for taxpayers. “If the legislation was in place today, the savings to the Iowa Medicaid program would be between $7.5 and $10.5 million a year. Those are dollars that can be reinvested into patient care and not invested in to overwhelmingly out of state healthcare employment agencies,” Willett said.
Willett says travel nurse agencies make massive profit margins, and they could afford to double what they pay their staff before hitting the 150% cap.
The bill overwhelmingly passed the Iowa house on an 80 to 17 vote.

Conner Hendricks covers state government and politics for Gray Television-owned stations in Iowa. Email him at [email protected]; and follow him on Facebook at Conner Hendricks TV or on X/Twitter @ConnerReports.
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