Medicaid’s $15 minimum wage takes effect October 1, but providers say they won’t get paid

Home and community service providers responsible for helping the poor And the Seniors enrolled in Medicaid-operated long-term care programs in Florida are concerned about meeting the new $15-an-hour minimum wage requirement for direct care workers that takes effect October 1.

Lawmakers have earmarked an additional $135.9 million for Medicaid managed care long-term care plans to cover increased payroll costs. Money will begin to flow out into the managed care plans that the state is relying on to administer this Medicaid program in the next two weeks.

But the home and community providers that contract with managed care plans say money won’t flow from health plans to them fast enough to cover rising payroll costs.

Note the State Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) are pressing them to sign new agreements proving that, starting next month, they will pay direct care employees at least $15 an hour. But the forms that Medicaid managed care plans are required to sign give them until January 1, 2023, before they have to increase the rates of their contracted providers to comply with the new wage requirements.

This is not the only concern for home and community providers participating in the Medicaid-administered long-term care program with new minimum wage requirements, but it is the most pressing.

Florida Assisted Living Association (vale) president Veronica J Cato Send a message to governor. Ron DeSantis On the 9th of September he begs him Intervene, describing the case as “critical.”

“How can a business sign an attestation form now if they don’t know if the increased money will actually be transferred to them or if they should try to use existing operating funds to try to find money to increase wages?” Cato wrote in a September 9 letter.

“It seems premature if the contracts currently in force are not amended to determine that the cost of the increased minimum wage is transferred to the facility. Otherwise, these facilities will take windfall money from their operating budgets during a time when operating and staff funds are limited and limited.”

FALA sent the letter after several discussions with the AHCA, which includes Medicaid and is working to implement wage increase requirements. Appointed Senate President Kathleen BassidomoAppointed Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul RennerChief of Senate Appropriations Kelly StargillHead of House Allocations Jay Trumbull and Secretary of the American Heart Association Simon Marsteller It was also copied on the letter.

Florida Home Care Association Executive Director Bobby Lolly He also sent a letter to DeSantis on September 15 asking the governor to consider delaying a $15 hourly wage increase for a month so that the AHCA can ensure that managed care plans have adjusted reimbursement rates for home health agencies in advance of the new minimum wage requirements.

Lawley said the association, which represents 2,200 home health care agencies, has been in regular contact with Medicaid officials about potential delays in health plans that are getting increased rates for providers. In May, the association asked Medicaid to begin work on the issue after DeSantis signed off on the budget.

“The minimum wage mandate will take effect in less than three weeks, and we have yet to hear from any provider whose contract has been modified through a health plan to cover minimum wage requirements,” Lully wrote.

Florida’s minimum wage for all employees, regardless of industry, will be $15 an hour starting in 2026 under a constitutional amendment approved by Florida voters in 2018.

This year the legislature agreed to include more than $600 million in the budget to increase reimbursement rates so Medicaid providers can pay $15 per care worker directly by October 1.

The $600 million is scattered across several budget areas and is paid for in increases for providers contracted with Medicaid managed care plans, as well as providers who are compensated on a fee-for-service basis and are not part of the Medicaid managed care system.

But most Medicaid recipients are enrolled in managed care plans, and lawmakers are counting on the plans to get increased payments to contracted care providers, particularly those who provide long-term care services and are among the lowest paid workers in the health care industry.

Specifically, the legislature has appropriated $135.9 million for Medicaid-administered long-term care plans to increase wages for all direct care providers they contract, from home health agencies to assisted living facilities to nurse registries.

Lawmakers left it up to managed care plans on how to distribute the money between different providers.

But the same does not apply to nursing homes. Lawmakers allocated another $202 million for Medicaid-administered long-term care plans that specifically targeted nursing homes. Unlike other Medicaid providers, nursing homes are required to increase wages for all of their employees, including cleaners and housekeeping, to $15 an hour.

The funding delay has caused some home and community long-term care providers to reconsider whether they want to continue participating in the Medicaid-administered long-term care program.

Healthcare providers are reluctant to speak out because they say they fear retaliation for the plans they contract with.

A manager at a licensed home health care agency on the Space Coast in Florida says she laments her recent decision to start participating in a Medicaid-operated long-term health care program. The director of a well-established home care agency that has served the community for more than 15 years, said she agreed to participate in the program in May after repeated requests from the community and clients.

While she supports the $15 minimum wage, she said she didn’t know it was on the horizon.

She’s worked closely with the Medicaid-administered Long-Term Care Plan for the past several months to get the accreditation, but she said the plan did not discuss with her the rate increase it offered in May before the budget was signed and the mandate became law.

“I feel that the direct caregivers they are talking about are, without a doubt, worth more money. I have always said that I find that they are very hardworking workers and handle all the heavy burdens that the state carries with these clients. I have no objection to that rate. The only issue,” she said. What we find and face is the problem is that we don’t get reimbursed to cover the costs of the increase.

It is not clear how the governor’s office will react. Brian GriffinA DeSantis spokesperson referred questions about the FALA letter to the AHCA. Agency spokesperson Brooke Juarez He has not responded to Florida Politics’ inquiries as of press time.

The AHCA sends out emails reminding providers that it wants to sign supplemental wage agreements by October 1.

According to the AHCA, the state can recover additional funds associated with minimum wage requirements from pHikers who do not sign agreements with the state.

It’s not clear how many home and community providers contracted with managed long-term care plans need to sign forms. Questions from Florida Politics were not immediately answered.

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