Legislature extends $ 2 per hour risk premium for direct care workers in $ 465 million relief bill


Direct care workers who provide home care services to disabled and elderly residents will get a $ 2 per hour increase in their hourly wages for the next two months as part of an extension of the COVID-19 risk premium included in a pandemic aid bill the Michigan Legislature sent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday.

Michigan House closed its end-of-term lame duck session on Monday morning with a final vote on a $ 465 million COVID-19 relief bill that includes $ 100 million for the temporary salary increase for January and February.

The extension of hourly risk pay during the pandemic will be funded by $ 26.7 million in public funds and $ 73.3 million in federal funding. The $ 2 hourly bonus has been in place since the spring as part of the initial Economic Aid Congress extended to the states.

“Extending this hourly increase until 2021 helps ensure that these caregivers can be paid more fairly, even on a temporary basis,” Robert Stein, general counsel for the Michigan Assisted Living Association, said in a statement. “While this is not the kind of permanent solution our state needs to tackle this important sector of our workforce, we believe it signals positive legislative intent and we look forward to continuing these important political discussions. “

The action of the legislature extending the risk premium for workers in direct care comes after a Crain’s forum report earlier this month on a worsening workforce shortage crisis in the direct care industry during the pandemic.

Direct care workers who care for Medicaid patients at home are often capped at $ 13 per hour due to government-dictated reimbursement rates for recruiting agencies. Direct care is an umbrella term for home health aides, group home caregivers for adults with disabilities, and specialists who provide therapy in non-institutional residential settings.

The legislature’s appropriation for the direct care worker risk premium was one of many large business-related expense items in the $ 465 million additional spending bill directed to Whitmer’s office.

They understand:

  • A deposit of $ 220 million from general fund taxes into the state Unemployment Trust Fund to pay for an extension of unemployment benefits from 20 weeks to 26 weeks until April 1. The additional six weeks of unemployment checks were due to expire on December 31.
  • $ 55 million in “Small Business Survival Grants.” Businesses with fewer than 100 employees that have been shut down by a public health order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services restricting gatherings or requiring faces would be eligible for a $ 20,000 grant. Small businesses that were partially closed by government order during the pandemic could get a grant of $ 15,000. The grants will be administered by 15 local, nonprofit economic development organizations, such as Detroit Economic Growth Corp. and The Right Place in Grand Rapids. If only maximum grants were given, this fund would provide economic assistance to 2,750 small businesses in the state.
  • $ 45 million for an employee assistance fund administered by the Michigan Department of the Treasury. Individuals whose workplaces have been closed by a state government order would be eligible for a grant of up to $ 1,650. This aid fund would provide maximum grants to about 27,270 people.
  • $ 17.86 million to reimburse hospitals that treat Medicaid patients with a confirmed case of COVID-19 with the antiviral drug remdesivir.
  • $ 2 million for additional payments to long-term care and recovery centers that accept COVID patients discharged from hospitals.

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