11 more states working on wage increases for direct care workforce

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Seventeen states currently have Medicaid-related initiatives underway to bolster their long-term care workforce, with many of those focused on raising wages for workers, a new survey shows.

The Kaiser Family Foundation's 50-state Medicaid budget survey for fiscal years 2017 and 2018, released Thursday, listed shortages and turnover among the long-term services and supports workforce as an issue to watch in coming years. The report cited low wages, meager benefits, limited opportunities for advancement, insufficient training and high injury rates as reasons why works may be leaving or avoiding the sector.

Seventeen of the states surveyed by Kaiser reported that they were working on efforts in FYs 2017 and 2018 to address those issues, with 11 responding that they were looking at wage increases as a possible solution. The states with wage-related efforts underway are Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Utah.

Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin reported that they're working on workforce development initiatives, such as recruiting, training and credentialing.

In addition to workforce issues, many of the Medicaid directors surveyed said that LTSS reform efforts are one of their top priorities in coming years since the sector relies so heavily on Medicaid payments.