Advocates stress funding boost for long-term care facilities
MADISON Wis. (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin's long-term care facilities are facing a critical caregiver shortage and are urging lawmakers to increase funding in the next state budget to help boost wages.
Long-term care facilities and nursing homes have faced challenges with worker shortages for years, but the pandemic put even more stress on the industry.
LeadingAge Wisconsin and other advocacy groups involved in long-term care stressed to lawmakers the need to consider Gov. Tony Evers' budget plan that costs roughly $600 million.
It would be used toward reimbursement rates for nursing homes, creating programs to provide training to workers and another portion would create a $500 tax credit for family caregivers.
"Now's the time to act, we cannot put off decision-making about funding increases," said John Sauer, CEO of LeadingAge Wisconsin. "Demographics show there's going to be more Wisconsinites who need long-term care and we're not ready right now because we need to invest more into the workforce."
A survey last year of Wisconsin long-term care providers found 1 in 4 caregiving staff positions are unfilled and nearly half, 42%, of providers are facing a caregiver vacancy rate of 25% or more.
Lawmakers on the budget committee are expected to approve funding for long-term care facilities Wednesday evening, but negotiations have been postponed for hours as Republicans signaled they want to complete their work on the budget this week.
Over the last two weeks, the Republican co-chairs on the budget committee have delayed the original start time as lawmakers recently learned the state is expected to receive over $4.4 billion in projected tax revenue over the next three years.
Funding for K-12 schools is also throwing a curveball into negotiations after a top U.S. education official warned Republicans the current amount of money they approved for schools is not enough to secure $2.3 billion in federal relief aid.