A gloved nurse counts money in her hands

While several healthcare groups are fighting the state’s planned $15 an hour minimum wage for direct care workers in Medicaid-funded programs, the state’s largest nursing home association is not among them.

The Florida Health Care Association is not involved in a challenge filed in administrative court last week, director of communications Kristen Knapp told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News on Thursday.

“Nursing centers saw a $293 million Medicaid funding increase in the 2022 legislative session, which gives providers the resources needed to increase staff wages to $15 per hour and be competitive employers,” she said. “This is critically important as we continue facing workforce challenges in the long term care profession.”

While Knapp praised the additional funding from the legislature, the Florida Ambulance Association, the Florida Assisted Living Association and the Home Care Association of Florida are arguing that the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration did not properly use the rule-making process to define direct care employees. AHCA oversees the state’s Medicaid programming.

At least two other groups asked Gov. Ron DeSantis to intervene, but he did not.

FALA, HCAF and the ambulance association filed constitutional challenges in a county court, asking a judge for a temporary injunction to block several provisions related to the minimum wage mandate. One of the provisions says the groups can be sued beginning Jan. 1, 2023, for failure to pay their employees $15 an hour.Florida’s minimum wage is $11 an hour and will rise to $12 on Sept. 30, 2023. That rate will increase annually by $1 until 2026. No other employer in the state can be sued for failing to pay an employee $15 per hour.

A recent report from the National Governor’s Association revealed the extent of direct-care wage programs for Medicaid-funded systems across the country.