They care for our parents. They care for our children. They care for us. They are home health care workers, and one thing is certain: They should earn better compensation for the critical service they provide.
There are many reasons home health caregivers in North Carolina average about $9.00 an hour, despite having a job that demands great knowledge and skill, trust, dedication and almost unending drive.
Medicaid only pays the home health care agencies $13.88 an hour. That’s among the lowest reimbursement rates in the country, and it is almost two dollars lower than the wage rate just a few years ago.
After overhead costs, there just isn’t much left to increase pay.
Ari Medoff, president and CEO of Nurse Care NC, would like to do what he can to change that for his team and for all home health care workers. “We go out and find the best people we can,” he said. “The kind of people who have to be counted on day in and night out, and we watch them struggle to pay their bills even after very long weeks of giving wonderful care. Something has to change.”
The turnover rate in the field in one year can be 50% or higher.
First, Medoff says, the NC legislature, which sets the Medicaid reimbursement rates, needs to put the state among the highest in the country, not the lowest. He believes the residents of North Carolina will support that.
Second, employers like Nurse Care NC need to maximize planning and projections so that caregivers can get more hours, and hours they can predict. “We all have to do a better job,” Medoff said.
Medoff says he wants Nurse Care NC to be able to offer career growth for his work force.
As reported in a recent News & Observer story, the home health care field is expected to need a million more caregivers by 2022.
It will take industry pressure and undoubtedly the voices of the patient and family communities to persuade lawmakers of North Carolina to seek meaningful improvements.
The quality of home care for one of your loved ones may depend on it.