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May 28, 2024 3:02 pm

Local News

VP Harris makes third Wisconsin visit, focuses on health care and reproductive rights

Credit: iStock

by Baylor Spears, Wisconsin Examiner
April 23, 2024

Vice President Kamala Harris — making her third visit to Wisconsin this year — announced two federal rules meant to improve conditions for health care workers and quality of care for seniors and people with disabilities on Monday. After visits with health care workers she rallied with supporters of reproductive rights at a campaign event. 

Harris’ first stop in the battleground state was Hmoob Cultural & Community Agency in La Crosse to announce two new federal rules that aim to improve safety, provide support for care workers and family caregivers and to expand access to affordable, high-quality care. She participated in a round table discussion with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita-Brooks Lasure and health care professionals. 

“[Today] is about the safety, the dignity, the guarantee of self-determination that comes with the work that home health care workers and care workers do,” Harris said. “Today is about recognizing the gift that home health care workers and care workers give to us as a society.”

The first rule would require nursing homes that receive federal funding through Medicare and Medicaid to have 3.48 hours per resident per day of total staffing. This would include a minimum defined number of 0.55 hours per resident per day for registered nurses and 2.45 per resident per day for nurse aides. According to the administration, the rule will mean that a facility with 100 residents would need at least two or three RNs and at least 10 or 11 nurse aides as well as two additional nurse staff per shift to meet the minimum staffing requirements. 

The rule will be introduced in phases to allow nursing homes time to hire necessary staff, according to the administration. Limited, temporary exemptions for the rule will be available for nursing homes in workforce shortage areas that show a good faith effort to hire.

The second rule would aim to increase compensation for home care workers by requiring at least 80% of Medicaid payments for home care services to go to the wages of those providing the care. 

Harris said the rules recognize that health care workers deserve more.  

“I say it is about time that we start to recognize your value and pay you accordingly,” Harris said. 

This story is republished from Wisconsin Examiner under a Creative Commons license. Read the original story.