Letter: State can do better for long-term care workers

Published: 6/19/2018 12:01:01 AM

New Hampshire’s combination of the nation’s second-lowest unemployment rate and second-oldest population is brewing the perfect storm.

Long-term care providers are absolutely strapped in recruiting, and retaining, staff. We’re not alone in feeling these pressures. Yet neighboring states are actually doing something about it.

In Maine, Democrats and Republicans unanimously agreed to a budget resolution to help the workforce across long-term care settings. Nursing home and other direct-care workers will receive a 10 percent wage and benefit increase.

Massachusetts has already appropriated over $70 million specifically toward a pathway to a living wage for nursing home workers. And more money is coming. In Massachusetts the Senate-adopted state budget under consideration by a legislative conference committee requires that “not less than $38,300,000 shall be expended for a rate add-on for wages, shift differentials, bonuses, benefits and related employee costs paid to direct care staff of nursing homes” including “nurses’ aides and housekeeping, laundry, dietary and activities staff.”

We can do better here. The sponsor of Maine’s wage enhancement effort put it well when he said, “In Maine, we talk a lot about taking care of our seniors but words only go so far.”

Fiscal responsibility has put our state budget in a place where an appropriation of additional resources, matched by the federal government, could make a real difference in the lives of long-term care workers, who are overwhelmingly women – many moms providing for their kids. As voters meet with candidates, they should keep this priority in mind.

BRENDAN WILLIAMS

Pembroke

(The writer is the president and CEO of the New Hampshire Health Care Association.)




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