(TRENTON) – Aiming to help nursing homes improve their COVID-19 response by providing wage increases to frontline certified nurse aides (CNAs) and dedicating funding to infection control efforts, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Daniel Benson was approved Friday by the Assembly Aging and Senior Services Committee.
The measure (A-4547) would increase the Medicaid reimbursement rate for Class I, Class II and Class III nursing facilities by ten percent for the next fiscal year from October 1 to June 30. The new Medicaid funding would total $130 million, of which $62 million would come from state funding and $68 million from federal funding.
Of the $130 million, $78 million must be used by nursing homes to increase wages for CNAs. On average, this would support a 20 percent hourly wage increase. The remaining $52 million would assist facilities in supporting COVID-19-related infection control protocols, including personal protective equipment, cleaning and staffing needs, among others.
Facilities which fail to meet certain requirements specified by the New Jersey Department of Health may be subject to forfeiture of funding.
Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) and Assemblyman Daniel Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex) released the following statements:
Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle: “Certified nurse aides in long-term care centers are on the COVID-19 front lines day in and day out. They dedicate their lives to caring for our most vulnerable, and now they put their health at risk every day they’re on the job. If there’s ever a time to enhance wages for our severely underpaid and overworked nurse aides, it’s now.”
Assemblyman Benson: “Nursing homes are not only battling a public health emergency; many are also facing a fiscal emergency. Without the resources to adequately pay nursing staff or enforce infection control measures, it will become even more difficult to retain nurses and keep residents and staff safe. By increasing Medicaid reimbursements, we can provide financial relief to nursing homes so that they may improve their COVID-19 response and better care for residents.”