LTC leaders call on California to provide a living wage for nursing home CNAs

SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 2, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The California Association of Healthcare Facilities, representing skilled nursing providers, is calling on the state to provide a living wage for certified nursing aides (CNAs) in nursing homes. The Drive to 25 campaign aims to stem a crippling labor shortage that threatens access to skilled nursing.

CAHF is calling on the Medi-Cal program to establish a CNA minimum wage for nursing homes that will increase to $25 per hour by 2025.

Fifty-one percent of direct care staff, the backbone of nursing home care delivery, are eligible for public assistance according to a report by the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency.

“For too long skilled caregivers have been neglected, overworked and underpaid,” said CAHF CEO Craig Cornet. “This reform is 100% focused on strengthening and developing the nursing home workforce and will not enrich facility operators.”

Cornett noted that nearly 80% of the state’s direct care workforce is made up of women. Fifty percent are immigrants and many are single mothers. “A living wage will help workers, increase caregiver retention and benefit resident care,” he added.

Medi-Cal’s level of reimbursement has never sufficiently covered the sickest, poorest, and often the oldest Californians. Medi-Cal reimburses the average nursing home $250 per day to provide an individual with 24 hours of care. In comparison, the state pays the average home support worker approximately $130 per day to cover an 8-hour shift to support an IHSS resident in their home.

The Qualified Nursing Establishments (ESN) of California are nearly 100% funded by the government. Most SNFs receive 66% of their funding from the Medi-Cal program (the rest comes almost exclusively from Medicare). These government payments fund the salaries of nursing staff (RN, LVN, CNA, etc.), support staff (janitor, housekeeping, catering and office support) and payment of operating expenses including utilities, supplies, food and rent.

Under the proposal, SNFs will pay a specified minimum wage, with Medi-Cal covering the costs of about two-thirds of wage increases. The rest will be covered by school funds. Medi-Cal’s share of this cost will be funded as a direct transfer from the state to facility employees. The new “CNA Living Wage” will not be discretionary but must be paid to all CNAs.

Contact Deborah Pacina

SOURCE California Association of Healthcare Facilities

Michael A. Bynum