In 2016, Massachusetts approved $35.5 million in public money to supplement pay for low-paid nursing home workers.
Nearly two years later, after repeated extensions, a report by the state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services shows some nurses and aides are still waiting for their payday.
A dozen nursing homes are still not in compliance with state regulations, and nine of those have been given until mid-June to award a final $502,000 to workers. Three others must repay several thousands of dollars in misspent funds, said the report cited by the Boston Globe.
In all, about 97% of the state’s nursing homes did award money to workers.
As state officials consider another round of supplemental pay meant to boost retention rates, State Sen. Mark C. Montigny (D-New Bedford) filed legislation that would speed up the payment process. His bill would require all nursing homes to give workers the money within a year of spending approval.
“We should fine the violators, and take the money out of their operations to make sure all of these hard-working people are paid what they deserve,” Montigny told The Globe.
According to the report, regulators gave extensions to 46 nursing homes in 2017, then granted more extensions to nine others when audits revealed they were not in compliance with program rules.
The same program also came under fire in January, when eight legislators questioned whether some facilities had misappropriated state money from the program.
In December, regulators found that higher-paid registered nurses and licensed practical nurses received much of the money — which was doled out in bonuses and raises. The program was intended to support CNAs, dietary, housekeeping and other low-paid workers.
The Massachusetts Senior Care Association said in a statement shared with The Globe that it expects all nursing homes to comply with the new June 17 deadline.
President Tara Gregorio said the industry is struggling because of a lack of state funding, and MSCA is hoping a new state budget starting July 1 will include additional another round of supplementary pay to help attract and retain employees.