A coalition is forming to defeat a state bill in Iowa that would put a bill rate cap on what healthcare staffing firms can charge.

The legislation, Iowa House file 2391, would prohibit staffing firms from charging clients more than 150% of the statewide average wage for workers. Included in the 150% would be a temporary nurse’s hourly wage as well as administrative fees, contract fees, transportation or travel stipends, per diems and any other costs such as overtime and taxes that a healthcare staffing firm is authorized to charge clients.

“It would devastate the amount of care people are getting,” said Steve Heeg, CEO of GrapeTree Medical Staffing, which is based in Milford, Iowa. The state would lose travel healthcare workers as well as per diem workers.

Heeg is heading up the coalition along with Bob Livonius, a longtime staffing industry veteran who works with several staffing firms and serves on GrapeTree’s board.

The bill was passed by the Iowa House on Feb. 27, but the coalition is working to stop it in the Iowa Senate.

Livonius said backers of the legislation do not understand that a large percentage of temporary healthcare workers already have full-time employment and are working on a temporary basis for extra income. Preventing temporary healthcare jobs will not mean there are extra people who would take full-time jobs at facilities.

Caps just do not work, Livonius said. “What they do is they limit the number of people who are willing to work in the market and the number of companies that are willing to supply.”

So far, the coalition has 18 members. It was founded as a movement against classifying nurses and other professionals as independent contractors, a separate issue in the healthcare staffing industry.