Rep. Brian Higgins of New York announced a bill Thursday that provides a $5,000 tax credit to frontline health workers after many of them risked their personal safety to navigate the U.S. through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Higgins, a Democrat, said the credit would also apply to a full range of workers, including nurses, physicians assistants, nurse practitioners and home health aides.
“Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, under the weight of additional challenges, our nurses and health care workers put their lives and those of their family members at risk to keep Americans safe,” Mr. Higgins said. “As we look at making investments in the care economy, we can’t only invest in physical health care infrastructure, but also in our human infrastructure, properly supporting those who care for all of us.”
Government officials and everyday people applauded health workers for working long shifts and putting themselves in jeopardy during surges in the virus.
Besides the risk of infection, the pandemic took an emotional toll as they were often the only persons in the room with dying patients.
Experts are warning of burnout and an exodus from the profession. They say health workers need more support than a thumbs-up or appreciative pot-clanging from balconies.
Mr. Higgins said the tax credit will support people who go into the field. He cited federal statistics that say there are nearly 4 million registered nurses in the U.S., but their average age is 50, meaning they will be seeking retirement even as an aging populace seeks care.
He also said the country will need to fill more than 1 million home health aide positions, as the occupation sees surging demand over the next decade.