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Proposed Raise for Rhode Island HHAs Not Enough, Advocates Say

February 18, 2016

A proposal to raise wages for Rhode Island home health aides has drawn criticism from advocates who say that the raise is not high enough to ensure quality care.

As part of her FY17 budget proposal (pdf), Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) writes that she wants to raise the wages of “Medicare Home Health Workers” by 7 percent and those of “direct-care workers in the private developmental disability provider network” by 4 percent. Each raise would cost the state an additional $4 million.

But Nicholas Oliver, executive director of the Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care, told National Public Radio on February 4 that such a raise is too modest and will not have a measurable effect on care quality.

“We have a revolving door of good quality staff members that are making just slightly above minimum wage,” Oliver said, “whereas eight years ago they were a couple of dollars over minimum wage.”

The PHI State Data Center shows that Rhode Island home health aides earned a median hourly wage of $12.17 in 2014, down from $13.87 in 2006 (after adjusting for inflation).

Oliver’s organization is planning an event to promote higher wages for home care and hospice workers on April 12 at the state house in Providence.

— by Matthew Ozga

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