Association slams proposal favoring unionized nursing homes

Editor's note: After McKnight's deadline, the Connecticut Senate approved a budget implementation bill that will distribute $26 million for nursing home wages without favor to union or non-union facilities. The bill passed the Connecticut House of Representatives this morning.

Connecticut lawmakers are planning to distribute funds to nursing homes based on “irrelevant factors,” the state's largest association of skilled nursing facilities said.

State lawmakers have proposed allocating $9 million to 60 unionized nursing homes, but only $4 million to 170 non-unionized skilled nursing facilities. The Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities called this “blatantly unfair and discriminatory to the non-union workers.”  

“Determining what a facility should be paid should be related to employee performance and the health and safety of the facility,” Matthew Barrett, executive vice president of the association, told McKnight's on Monday. “Being in a union or not is not relevant, and has no place in determining what your Medicaid bill should be.”

Only 30% of Connecticut facilities are associated with organized labor and those homes would receive a 5.5% increase, while non-union workers only receive a .75% increase under the allocation, Barrett said. In fact, non-union workers would be earning a 10 cent raise versus the 80 cent raise for union workers. Increased wages should be for all facilities, not specific ones, he said.

“The work [of all nursing home employees] is the same; it's the same setting and the same residents, so the pay should be the same too,” Barrett added.

If Connecticut moves forward with the allocation, they will have to release an official statement and get approval from The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Lawmakers are putting $1.2 million in federal Medicaid matching funds at risk by the allocation, Barrett warned.

“We'll be urging CMS to disapprove the amendment because we think it's in violation of Medicaid rules and laws in general,” Barrett said. “It's not just a marginal favoritism, it's a marketable one, and one we can never support by any means.”