Closeup of $15 with $5 and $10 bills

Florida long-term care associations and one provider are challenging a requirement that, starting Oct. 1, providers in the state serving Medicaid beneficiaries — including assisted living communities and home care agencies — pay workers a $15-per-hour minimum wage.

The state’s fiscal year 2022-2023 budget provided more than $600 million to the state Agency for Health Care Administration to increase the minimum wage for employees of providers of home- and community-based services to at least $15 per hour. The requirement applies to employees and independent contractors. 

Providers that are unable to increase their minimum wage to $15 face consequences, including recoupment of funds associated with the wage increase and potential litigation from staff members, who can file civil actions against their employers for noncompliance.

The groups that filed the lawsuit against the state and Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration include the Florida Assisted Living and Florida Ambulance associations, the Home Care Association of Florida and assisted living facility Heather Haven III, Florida Politics reported. They contend that providers that contract with a managed care plan won’t see “the money won’t flow from the health plans to them quickly enough for them to cover the increased salary costs,” according to Florida Politics. Long-term providers that contract with managed care plans may not see those additional dollars until Jan. 1.

In Sept. 9 letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), FALA President Veronica J. Catoe asked for the governor’s help in obtaining clarification about the minimum wage requirement on several key questions from Florida AHCA.

“How can a facility sign an attestation form now if they don’t know if the increased funds will in fact be passed on to them or if they must try to use their current operating funds to try to come up with funds for the wage increase?” Catoe wrote.

Meanwhile, as Florida mandates that HCBS providers that contract with the managed care plans pay $15 an hour, the state’s minimum wage will go from $10 to $11 dollars per hour, with another $1 increase coming Sept. 30, 2023, Politico reported.