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Minnesota Bill Would Raise Direct-Care Workers’ Wages

March 11, 2015

A bill working its way through the Minnesota legislature aims to improve the recruitment and retention of direct-care workers in rural nursing homes by boosting their wages.

Sponsored by State Representative Joe Schomacker (R), the bill was approved by the House Aging and Long-Term Care Policy committee last month.

Although the terms of the bill are still being hashed out, it would likely create a new reimbursement method for long-term care facilities that will allow for higher direct-care worker wages, the Hibbing Daily Tribune reported on March 4.

Schomacker said the higher wages were necessary to maintain care continuity.

“All the people who work in a nursing home are seeing people regularly; they’re like a family,” the Tribune quoted him as saying. “When people don’t stick around long, it causes these important, close relationships to suffer.

“The more people who we can sustain in that industry — instead of viewing it as a stepping stone in their career — the more we’ll be able to provide quality care,” Schomacker added.

State Rep. Tom Anzelc (D) supported the bill. He told the Tribune, “In Greater Minnesota, we are at the edge of a crisis in not being able to attract and retain qualified workers to work in long-term facilities because of the pay.”

He added that long-term care workers “work very hard, long hours, irregular hours, and the pay does not fit the job.”

The bill is part of a renewed push by the state legislature to focus on the rural part of the state, known as Greater Minnesota, the Associated Press reported on February 19.

Approximately 40 percent of the state’s residents live in Greater Minnesota, but lawmakers there say it has been neglected by the legislature in recent years.

— by Matthew Ozga

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