Long term care advocates have pushed their case for a national immigration overhaul, this time offering testimony before the Senate.

Joining up with a wide swath of small- and medium-sized business interests, the American Health Care Association has urged Congress to expand expert visas and to rethink some of the restrictions that operators say prevents willing immigrants from joining the ranks of the nation’s caretakers.

“We want to offer and support solutions that mitigate the shortage of caregivers in skilled nursing and post-acute care facilities,” said Gov. Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of AHCA. “Our rapidly aging population has care needs that will require us to significantly increase the availability of caregivers in the future. We urge Congress to develop a plan that benefits U.S. workers, foreign workers, our nation’s elderly, and persons with disabilities, which is why we back the creation of the Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research.”

Fred Benjamin, chairman of the Kansas Health Care Association and chief operating officer of Medicalodges, took another tour of the Hill when he testified before a Senate subcommittee on Monday.
“We have critical staffing needs,” Benjamin told the Senate panel. “There are chronic shortages throughout the nursing home industry.”

Immigration reform had been a dormant policy question for the better part of a decade. Advocates were hopeful that a broadly worded bill by a new “gang of eight” group of senators from both major parties might be just thing to overhaul a system few will defend on its own.

However, events may still conspire against the bill. The brothers accused of turning the Boston Marathon into a charnel site were each immigrants whose names had flickered on and off in the consciousness of the nation’s security apparatus. Ahead of Monday’s hearing, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said that the brothers’ carnage was a bad auger for immigration reform.

As Monday’s marathon hearing went on, Grassley and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) traded accusations that each was trying, cheaply, to politicize current events.