State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff
Press Release

Democrats Introduce CNA Pay Act to Address Nursing Aide Shortage

The rate of CNAs leaving the profession continue to increase as they leave the industry for jobs with higher wages and better benefits.

By - Nov 3rd, 2017 11:33 am

MADISON – Today, Representative Lisa Subeck (D-Madison) and Representative Jonathan Brostoff (D-Milwaukee) introduced the CNA Pay Act which would increase wages and expand access to training for Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) working on the frontlines of long-term care and nursing facilities. The proposal comes after yesterday’s passage by Assembly Republicans of AB 432, which would diminish nursing care quality by reducing the required number of hours of training a CNA is required to complete. With 11,500 currently vacant personal care worker positions and demand for CNAs in Wisconsin projected to grow exponentially due to growth in the aging population, immediate action is needed to address the workforce shortage.

“Democrats would increase wages and expand access to training for CNAs who are on the front lines providing daily care to our most vulnerable residents,” said Rep. Subeck. “The bill passed yesterday by Assembly Republicans will diminish the quality of care. Instead, we can and should make CNA training more accessible and affordable and ensure these caregivers earn a living wage on which they can support their own families.”

“For people with lower incomes, the frail elderly and people with disabilities both the wage increase and the other financial incentives provided to CNAs is of crucial importance because their current income is so low that there is a huge shortage of workers in this very important field,” said Barbara Vedder of Madison who depends on personal care services. “I want to continue to be able to live and be actively involved in the community and the only way to do so is if I’m able to find people to help me with the most basic of needs in order for me to function on a daily basis.”

According to a joint report by the Wisconsin Health Care Association, Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living, Wisconsin Assisted Living Association, LeadingAge Wisconsin, and Residential Services Association of Wisconsin, the median starting wage for personal caregivers in Wisconsin is $10.75 per hour. The same report indicates that the median wage paid by non-health care employers for unskilled, entry level workers is $1.25 more than the wage paid to caregivers. The rate of CNAs leaving the profession continue to increase as they leave the industry for jobs with higher wages and better benefits.

“CNA work is hard work, physically, mentally, and emotionally,” said Madi Vander Hill, a CNA in Dane County. “In order for us to take care of ourselves and our families, and stay in this profession longer, we need a living wage for all CNAs. Once we pay the tuition for the class and certifying exam we would expect to receive a wage that makes that expense worthwhile, which is not the case for many CNAs.”

“Too often CNAs have to work two jobs just to get by, and the bill passed yesterday by Assembly Republicans does nothing to change that,” said Rep. Brostoff. “We have a responsibility to provide living wages, fair benefits and access to training for these frontline healthcare workers, who take care of our most vulnerable friends and family members.”

LRB-4743 would create a tax credit for tuition costs for CNAs. After working for 1 year as a CNA, an individual can claim a one-time $1500 capped refundable tax credit for the cost of CNA training.

LRB-4744 would provide $500,000 annually to give grants to technical colleges in order to expand access to CNA training in underserved areas.

LRB-4745 would increase the Medicaid reimbursement rate for personal care services by accepting the Federal Medicaid expansion dollars. The bill requires that the reimbursement increase go directly to increasing wages of frontline caretakers.

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14 thoughts on “Democrats Introduce CNA Pay Act to Address Nursing Aide Shortage”

  1. Donna says:

    I agree, we must raise wages for these professional nurses, and stop calling them assistants!
    An assistant is some one works under supervision. Personal care nurses do all basic, often crucial services, using their knowledge, experience and judgement, with usually, no one there to advise them. Like soldiers, they do the real work.
    If a doctor wants to know how a patient is doing he can find out – is the patient eating, throwing up, eliminating, how often, walking, how far, rational, sleeping more, less – and on and on it goes, from the professional care nurse.
    Can you imagine calling our enlisted soldiers assistants?! Can you imagine command headquarters saying, “We’ll send our ‘combat assistants’ out to take that hill”!
    Being a professional care nurse is a career, using heart and responsibility for human life. Since we need more people in this field, just pay them more, as professionals. Those who aren’t adequate will be pushed out by many drawn to this deeply human profession.

  2. red712 says:

    Agreed all those working as CNA’s deserve a much better wage. It ridiculous those individuals are providing the care on level required yet the pay and benefits is so low the CNA’s are sacrificing their own well being just for the love of the job. My g/f is a CNA and has been many years but she lives pay check to paycheck and cannot afford to see a doctor for her own needs because she can barely make monthly rent and utilities on her own plus deal with a $4000 out of pocket before any insurance kicks in. Theres no reason these company’s who are providing CNA services, some called “Non-Profits” who get millions a year in “donations” cannot provide their CNA’s at least a wage to earn them $35-40,000 a year and health insurance that doesn’t require them to decide if they are really “Sick enough” to warrant a doc visit because they cant afford the bill.

  3. Jhhjjjhh says:

    Same with Lpn’s. Have to work extra hours and 2 jobs too.

  4. Wisclpn says:

    What will you do with the LPN wage then. Where I work they start at $15.86…cant pay a CNA $35 and not a licensed nurse.

  5. Anna P says:

    I agree the CNAs need to make more to attract them and keep them in these positions. However to pay them more, the government needs to pay the facilities more for the care provided. Nursing homes are going to start really suffering with new laws and decreased resources.

    I dont beleive that the access to cna education for funding for the education is going to make the difference. Many facilities are offering potential employees tuition reimbursement or classes at their facilities due to the shortage and it is not a big draw.

  6. Is their anyway for us CNA’s and all group homes employees for disabled , day program employees for disabled , traveling CNA’s working in hospice care and all health care individuals can sign a petition to get this a law pass to increase the wages to $18-19 an hour for the entire State of Wisconsin. The LPN’s a my work place start at $17.00 an hour. I see the the idea to pass this legislation but we aught to know by now that most bills introduce into the State of Wisconsin often are not passed. It will be the corporations and medicare and mediaid the federal and state government will not want this bill passed because it will hurt their pocket book. The new corporation that is taking over all fortis building want all new CNA’s make $9.50 an hour. Perhaps the only way is to pass this idea to have caregivers getting more money put this bill on a State of Wisconsin state wide ballot to have the people of Wisconsin vote on the issue “should all CNA and caregivers have a pay rate of $18-$19 an hour” At least it will be the American citizen and the entire people in the State of Wisconsin to determine if we deserve the pay and bring the serious crisis situation in all nursing homes and group homes to a state and federal level and have people realize the serious problems in health care.

  7. Donna says:

    I agree with Jennifer.
    The median (half above, half below) individual income for someone with a high school diploma is $15/hr. A professional health care worker, with training, high responsibility and a code of ethical behavior should be at least, in the upper half of high school graduates.
    A referendum on a state ballot is a good idea because it brings attention on this to the voters, but legislators don’t have to follow the results. I agree tho and repeat you:
    “should all CNA and caregivers have a pay rate of $18-$19 an hour” At least it will be the American citizen and the entire people in the State of Wisconsin to determine if we deserve the pay and bring the serious crisis situation in all nursing homes and group homes to a state and federal level and have people realize the serious problems in health care.”

  8. Tammi meese says:

    I live in Missouri, I have been a CNA for almost 30 yrs. I started at $3.25 an hour at 18 yrs old.
    I now make $14.34 an hour at age 48.
    This work is very hard! I get abused, bit, kicked, my hair pulled,. I really think they could and should be able to pay $16-$18 an hour. Not everyone has the education to move forward, I am good at my job, my residents love me, I take good care of them.

  9. I have been a CNA for 20 years in Missouri and I make $9.44 per hour .I can’t make ends meet with my bills and personal life . I feel as if I can’t go on as CNA due to the lack of pay . I struggle buying grocery and can’t vacation nor miss a day of work .If I do my check will be short.We as CNA take so much more time with the residents and we also have a job that no one else will do.I have been in a resident room and a nurse want assist with the care of a resident..It is necessary to pay more due to our work load is just as important as a CEO is.

  10. Ralph bell says:

    I have been a cna for 18 years and 15 an hour and work 10 hours shifts plus if u have a call in u have to stay over 2 hours it very hard work and very stress ful on the body part of my check goes for my insurance

  11. Theresa says:

    I live in Des Moines Iowa and I have 15 years experience. I make 14.00 an hour but putting up with the patients abuse and now working with teenagers doing most of their work, its not worth it. I agree most states need to make more but maybe the shortage problem isn’t always the pay. I’m 41 but now my I can’t go a day without constantly hurting so 16 hours is now hard on me. I get talked to like a dog and when the nurses use to correct the patients and let them know they were wrong, but now its well this is considered their home. I don’t no anyone that invites me to their home to help them treat you with such disrespect.Yes I could go work at a restaurant but why downgrade. I’m burnt out. From the back pains, the abuse, and the unappreciative job itself. I’m praying that one day someone says CNA,s have rights Too.

  12. Alexis Castillo says:

    I live in Texas. I work at a hospital making $10 an hour. I received a .20 raise after my 3 month evaluation. We have to take care of very sick people and risk our health but I do our job with heart. I mean people that are hep c and hiv + , aids, flu everything! I work on a neurological unit. But I love my job. I’m a single mother I can’t just up and go to nursing school bc I have to work to. I don’t think it’s noticed how hard we work, how much we have to deal with, emotionally, physically and mentally. We spend more time with the patient than the actual nurse does. We do soooo much! And are very under appreciated. Over worked and under paid is what cnas are. I think we should make at least $16-$18 and your. We deserve that!

  13. Ashley says:

    Is this just for the state of Wisconsin? I believe this should happen everywhere because we do work so hard for so little! I live in Michigan!

  14. Mary Jungwirth says:

    I have been a CNA for 32 years and my body is starting to feel it! No one wants to do this work for the wages out there! So hard finding young people out there to be CNAs.

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