Travel Nurse Pay To Be Capped in Iowa

The Iowa House of Representatives voted last week to approve a bill that would limit how much hospitals and nursing homes can pay temporary nursing staff and travel nurses. House File 2391 would cap pay for these temporary healthcare workers at 150% of the average salary for a nurse in the state, contingent upon the healthcare entity they are employed by. The bill was approved with a vote of 80-17, garnering significant bipartisan backing.

Bill Aims to Address Staffing Shortages and Reduce Costs

Proponents argue the bill could help address nursing shortages in Iowa by making temporary staff more affordable for healthcare facilities. Critics counter that limiting pay could make temporary nursing roles less attractive and worsen staffing problems.

“It’s a morale issue for health care workers that are in there, stuck in there, that are working for a rate and working alongside traveling nurses making three or four times what they’re making, and so we need to kind of take those steps to make things better in the workplace for health care overall,” said State Representative Timi Brown-Powers (D) 

While reducing costs is important for healthcare facilities, limiting pay for temporary nurses could backfire.

Some members of the minority party abstained from voting on the bill due to concerns that imposing wage caps on temporary workers could potentially diminish business prospects within the state.

State Representative John Forbes (D) of District 44, Urbandale, remarked, “At 150%, it may prove challenging for certain businesses to sustain operations in Iowa. Particularly in rural areas, where nursing homes often encounter staffing shortages, this could exacerbate workforce issues.”

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Additionally, the bill mandates the State Department of Health and Human Services to annually establish a maximum allowable charge schedule. However, before it can be enacted into law, the bill must first navigate through the Iowa Senate.

Iowa is experiencing a shortage of nurses, especially in rural areas. According to the Iowa Board of Nursing, the state had over 9,000 nurse vacancies. Travel nurses and temporary staff have helped fill critical workforce needs. 

Nurses have taken to social media to share their reactions to the news. Overall, they are not happy with the wage cap. Many travel nurses online say they will no longer accept travel nursing contracts in Iowa. 


The bill still needs approval from the Iowa Senate and Governor Kim Reynolds to become law. If passed, Iowa would join a handful of other states that have implemented payment caps or restrictions for travel nurses and temporary medical staff.

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