Policy Committee explores living wage for nursing home employees

HARRISBURG, Nov. 16 – The House Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing at the Capitol today to learn more about state Rep. Ed Gainey’s legislation that would incentivize nursing home employers to pay workers a living wage of $15 per hour.

The hearing, co-chaired by Gainey, provided information on the impact that the Allegheny County legislator’s House Bill 1449, the Nursing Facility Accountability Act, would have on workers and facilities.

“House Democrats have been advocating for raising the minimum wage for quite some time now. Doing so for nursing home workers would be a great start. Representative Gainey has a proposal that would help workers facing challenging working conditions who deserve far more than a minimum wage,” said Sturla. “The Keystone Research Center found that one in six nursing home workers received SNAP, Medicaid or both. We need to pay a living wage so workers are less dependent on social services and are proudly able to provide for their families, especially those workers who are so dedicated to tirelessly serving others in some of their most difficult times.”

Gainey added, “Nursing home workers endure physically and mentally demanding jobs. Raising the wage to a living wage commensurate with their level of work is beyond reasonable and would not only empower workers, it would reduce turnover costs to employers and improve patient care. With a growing elderly population, we must urge action now for the benefit of all of Pennsylvania’s citizens.”

Gainey also noted that his bill would help Pennsylvania prepare for the growing number of individuals who require nursing home care.

“There are more than 80,000 seniors and people with disabilities in nursing home care across the state. The number of Pennsylvanians 85 or older is expected to grow to more than 400,000 residents by 2030,” he said. “We need a well-trained and compensated workforce to make sure high quality care and services are provided.”  

Testifiers included: Christine Filipovich, Deputy Secretary for Quality Assurance; Larry Clark, Director of the Office of Policy; Jen Burnett, Deputy Secretary for Office of Long-Term Living, Department of Human Services; Matt Yarnell, SEIU Executive Vice President for Long Term Care; Tisheia Frazier, Nurse Aide; Brittney Perri, Nurse Aide; Dharnell Bridges, Housekeeping/Laundry Worker; W. Russell McDaid, President, Pennsylvania Health Care Association; and Mark Price, Ph.D., Labor Economist, Keystone Research Center.

Additional information and hearing materials are available at www.pahouse.com/PolicyCommittee.