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Lawmakers Propose Eliminating Taxes for IA Disability Care Providers

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 Mark Moran, Producer-Editor

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Friday, April 7, 2023   

Iowa lawmakers have advanced legislation that would eliminate the income tax for health-care workers who support people with disabilities.

Advocates see the measure as an incentive for health-care professionals who might consider entering this field, but are discouraged by the low pay. They have called House File 264 a "trade-off" for the low wages.

Carlyn Crowe, public policy manager for the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, said the incentive would help companies attract and retain people to jobs that are notoriously hard to fill because of the challenging work and poor pay at an average hourly rate of $14.25.

"At a 4% state income tax, the average person might save $1,300 a year," she said. "It's not a huge savings, but it could just be enough that it's a tax savings instead of an increase in hourly wage."

Many Iowa employers are facing worker shortages, but the problem is especially acute for nonprofit in-home care providers who serve people with disabilities, such as nurses and nursing assistants. The bill is on its way to the House Ways and Means Committee.

This isn't the first time Iowa lawmakers have addressed the issue of wages for health-care workers who serve this population. Two years ago, the Legislature approved a 3.5% increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates for community-based health-care providers. Crowe said wages are so low that the providers themselves often need public assistance to make ends meet.

"We kind of keep creating a bigger problem by not paying higher wages to these individuals," she said. "So, this particular bill and this provision would just be one step into kind of getting us down the line for what we could be doing for this line of work. "

Supporters say raising wages for home health-care providers hasn't gained traction, but an income tax exemption serves the same purpose as a pay hike, putting more money in their pockets.

Disclosure: Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council contributes to our fund for reporting on Disabilities, Education, Health Issues, Mental Health. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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