Certified nursing assistants in nursing homes make too little money and deserve to earn a living wage. That’s according to the California Association of Health Facilities, the force behind the “Drive to 25” campaign to raise the minimum wage for CNAs to $25 an hour over the next three years.
The Sacramento, CA-based organization is calling on the Medi-Cal program, the state’s Medicaid program, to make it happen.
“For too long, skilled care workers have been overlooked, overworked and underpaid,” CAHF CEO Craig Cornett stated.
The Drive to 25 campaign, he added, “is focused 100% on strengthening and developing the nursing home caregiver workforce and will not enrich facility operators.”
According to Cornett, the state’s direct care workforce is made up of mostly women and approximately 80%, and 50% of the direct care workforce are immigrants.
“A living wage will help workers, increase caregiver retention and benefit resident care,” he added.
According to CAHF, Medi-Cal reimbursements to skilled nursing facilities are inadequate. Medi-Cal reimburses the average SNF $250 a day to provide an individual 24 hours of care, CAHF said, yet the state pays the average in-home support services worker approximately $130 a day to cover one eight-hour shift to care for a resident at home.
SNFs in California are almost 100% government-supported, according to CAHF. Most facilities receive 66% of their funding from the Medi-Cal program, and the rest comes almost exclusively from Medicare. The government payments provide funding for everything from caregiver wages, support staff (janitorial, housekeeping, food service and office support) and operating expenses (utilities, supplies, food and rent).
Under the Drive to 25 proposal, SNFs would pay a specified minimum wage and Medi-Cal would be expected to cover approximately two-thirds of the costs of the wage increases. Each individual facility would make up the rest with its own funds.
“The Medi-Cal share of this cost will be funded as a direct pass-through from the state to facility employees. The new ‘CNA living wage’ will not be discretionary but required to be paid to all CNAs,” the association said.