Petryk column: Helping our local nursing homes
As Chairman of the Workforce Development Committee, I have been working with my colleagues in the Assembly to meaningfully address the rising shortage of skilled care workers in our long-term care facilities. This lack of skilled workers is a crisis being felt in nursing homes and care facilities in the 93rd Assembly District and throughout our state and nation. When the time comes that you might need to make the decision about placing a loved one in a care facility, you want to make sure that there is adequate, trained staff on site and that it's near their family and friends.
That is why I drafted bipartisan legislation to help expand the number of Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) in Wisconsin by aligning our instructional hours with our neighboring states. It will also give local programs the flexibility to develop curricula for prospective CNA's without additional burdens. The legislation recently passed the Assembly and is on its way to the Senate before arriving on the governor's desk.
In addition, the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee recently provided more money directly into the wages of our caregivers. The 9% increase in the rate will help raise wages for those taking care of our loved ones and help address the workforce shortage seen in our facilities.
Another factor the committee addressed was the low reimbursement rates that our long-term care facilities have historically been receiving. This low rate has made it difficult for them to stay open and operate in Wisconsin. To stop this trend, the budget committee took action and increased nursing home reimbursement rates by 7%. Moreover, FamilyCare direct funding was increased by $66 million, $30 million more than what was requested by the governor.
Throughout the budget process, I have heard from constituents that Wisconsin needs to do more to address long-term health care. That is why the budget committee significantly increased funding in this area, more than what was proposed by the governor, in the amount of $158 million more. This package also ensures that everyone up to the federal poverty limit is covered with BadgerCare insurance. These historic investments into healthcare access and affordability will help millions of people in our state.