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News ::
State Audit Nabs Nursing Homes…
20 Dec 2001
63 nursing homes forced to repay state for improperly administered “wage pass-through” to CNAs
A state field audit of 99 nursing homes found that 63 facilities failed to give certified nursing assistants (CNAs) wage increases funded and mandated by the Commonwealth. The 63 facilities will be required to return the monies allocated for the direct care givers along with a 50 percent penalty.

The audit results were revealed in a recent unpublicized report to the legislature by the state’s Division of Health Care Finance and Policy (DHCF&P). More than half of the 63 facilities must pay back at least $20,000 – while the biggest offender – Catholic Memorial Home of Fall River, must pay back $95,000.

The DHCF&P is expected to recover about $1.7 million from the out-of-compliance homes.

“This audit reveals an outrageous abuse of public funds,” said Local 285 President Celia Wcislo. “Two years ago the nursing home industry came crying to the state for money to improve CNAs wages. The state came through with $25 million, but now at least 63 homes have failed to pass that money along to their hard working CNAs.”

“This industry does not deserve another penny until the public can be assured that every penny is going for more staffing and to improved wages and benefits for direct caregivers,” Wcislo added.

The legislature appropriated $25 million for a CNA wage pass-through for the calendar year 2000 in response to the nursing home industry’s repeated pleas for help in addressing the shortage of CNAs.

The DHCF&P will conduct a public hearing on December 27th to determine nursing home rate increases for calendar year 2002. Despite the nursing home industry’s poor track record with public funds over the last two years, industry representatives are expected to ask for more money from the state.

A preliminary report last April by the state showed that most nursing homes simply substituted the wage pass-through for raises that would have been given anyway.

SEIU has been working statewide to educate CNAs about their rights and the proper administration of the wage pass-through. Last year, nursing home union members fought to require the audit and public report as part of the appropriation. The DHF&Q targeted many of the audited nursing homes because CNAs personally reported that their wage pass-through was improperly administered.

The work of CNAs is critical to providing quality care to nearly 55,000 nursing home residents in Massachusetts. Many policy makers believe that increased wages are the best way to help nursing facilities attract and retain qualified CNAs.

The Division of Health Care Finance and Policy report is available online at: www.state.ma.us/dhcfp.

SEIU Local 285 (www.seiu285.org) is a statewide union of health care workers and public employees with more than 12,000 members. The local union represents workers at more than 50 hospitals, health clinics, and nursing homes in Massachusetts.

SEIU is the nation's largest union of health care workers, with more than 700,000 members working in hospitals, nursing homes, home health, HMOs, and clinics.

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See also:
www.seiu285.org
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