Sharpen your honorable pencils
Two of the many amendments I read about this morning: a 3.1 increase to healthcare provider rates and a 45% increase to the minimum wage. This math does not work. Raising the minimum wage by 45% cannot be paid for with a 3.1% increase does not work.
New Hampshire is experiencing a catastrophic shortage in our direct care workforce. During the budget process people showed up in droves to tell our legislators about the shortages and the impact on human lives. The wages paid to the direct care workforce are low, not because the employers do not want to pay higher wages, but because the reimbursement rates established by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services through funding established by the legislature are artificially low.
The rate structure of the community based care system serving our frail elders and chronically ill, the Choices for Independence Waiver, has been ignored for far too long … the rate schedule includes a rate lower reimbursement rate than the current minimum wage, another rate which has been increased only 4% since 1988, etc.
There are serious disparities here and passage of the minimum wage increase without addressing provider rates will be disastrous. There are two sides to this equation and both sides need to be addressed simultaneously.
This is very simple guys … please do not pass an increased minimum wage without paying for it. Our community based care provider system will collapse.