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Mass. Nursing Home Advocates Urge Governor to Back Wage Pass Through

February 4, 2016

Advocates in Massachusetts are urging Gov. Charlie Baker (R) to dedicate a portion of the $30 million in nursing home spending that he has proposed for FY17 to boosting the wages of direct-care workers.

The nursing home industry has promised to use some of the money to raise wages, but “advocates for nursing home residents want more than a promise,” wrote Boston Globe health reporter Kay Lazar on January 29. “They want the Baker administration to specifically mandate that part of the money go to higher wages for workers, many of whom are immigrants and single mothers.”

The Massachusetts Senior Care Association (MSCA) is among those cited by Lazar. In the Globe article, Lazar quotes Tara Gregorio, MSCA senior vice president, as saying, “We look forward to working with the legislature and administration to make sure wages are supported throughout this budget process.”

Quality Jobs for Quality Care

The MSCA formally launched its “Quality Jobs for Quality Care” campaign last November, with a stated mission to promote the importance of living wages for nursing home employees.

Since then, the MSCA has delivered a petition to Baker urging him to consider specifically allocating $90 million in additional nursing home funds — $85 million of which would go toward creating a “pathway” to a living wage of at least $15/hour for certified nursing assistants (CNAs).

Massachusetts CNAs haven’t seen a wage increase since 2008.

Although substantially less than the $90 million the MSCA requested, the extra $30 million proposed by the governor is a “critical first step,” Gregorio told PHI.

“We will continue to advocate for additional funding and language consistent with the ‘Quality Jobs for Quality Care’ initiative that requires facilities to invest in wages,” she added.

“Always Worthwhile”

On January 28, PHI National Director of Coaching & Consulting Services Susan Misiorski echoed the MSCA’s “Quality Jobs for Quality Care” message in an editorial published in McKnight’s.

“We’ve found that investing in the direct-care workforce is always worthwhile,” she wrote. “Direct-care staff who are well-compensated, have the chance to learn and grow on the job, and feel respected and supported will inevitably produce better care outcomes than staff who are undervalued and poorly paid.”

Misiorski was a keynote speaker at the November event that served as the launch for MSCA’s Quality Jobs campaign.

— by Matthew Ozga

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