Nebraska Legislature reviews healthcare worker compact studies

The Nebraska Legislature is reviewing certain resolutions to help relieve the state's shortage of healthcare workers.
Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 9:12 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - On Wednesday, the Nebraska Legislature looked into three healthcare worker compacts.

These would allow more social workers, dental hygienists, and physician assistants to be able to get a license to work here in Nebraska and other participating states.

They’re known as LR 233, LR 132, and LR 232, and were all presented by Sen. Carol Blood.

“LR 233 relates to an interstate compact for physician associates, LR 132 relates to the interstate compact for dentists and dental hygienists, and LR 232 is an interstate compact for social workers,” Blood said.

The overall goal is to allow workers in these particular fields to get a license in states that are a part of the worker compact.

Blood believes this will help make job relocation easier and bring in more out-of-state healthcare workers to Nebraska.

“Every state in the U.S. has a workforce shortage and Nebraska is not the exception,” Blood said. “Nebraska’s healthcare industry is the one that suffers the most from this shortage.”

Mary Bahney who is a part of the Nebraska Association of Social Workers sees the barriers these worker compacts could eliminate.

This is especially true in rural communities where the number of social workers is limited.

“Currently, social workers must obtain a separate license in each state in which they wish to practice,” Bahney said.

And, this is not just social workers, but dentists and dental hygienists, and physician assistants.

“These compacts will improve access to care for Nebraskans at a time where our core shortages are creating some gaps,” said Joey Enright with the Nebraska Dental Hygienist Association.

But most importantly, it will provide more opportunities for healthcare workers.

“While increasing odds that they remain in the state,” Enright said.

The Department of Defense has partnered with the State Government Council to give money to fund the social worker and dental compacts.

So far, Blood said there is no funding for the physician assistants compact.