Home health agencies and nursing homes are struggling to stay financially solvent. Will a minimum wage increase drive them into the red?
"Merton Hill lives alone in Cambridge. He suffered a stroke four years ago and is now unable to perform daily tasks like cleaning his house or cooking meals. "I can't write, I can't read. That right there makes it very hard for me," Hill said. Lamoille Home Health and Hospice staff visit Hill on a daily basis to help him cook, clean and keep him company. The program is called Choices for Care. Because of programs like these, there are about 500 fewer Vermonters in nursing homes, saving Vermont's health care system money. But there could soon be more pressure on the program's budget if a $12.55 minimum wage hike is approved. "We're spending 27 percent more to provide the service than we're receiving from the Medicaid program," said Jill Olson with the VNAs of Vermont, a statewide organization representing home health agencies.
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