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Starting in January, direct care workers in Maine will get a boost in pay

Roughly 1.4 million people in the U.S. live in nursing homes, and two-thirds are covered by Medicaid, the state-federal health care program for people with low incomes or disabilities.
Roughly 1.4 million people in the U.S. live in nursing homes, and two-thirds are covered by Medicaid, the state-federal health care program for people with low incomes or disabilities.

Starting next month, the Mills Administration is boosting pay rates for direct care workers at nursing homes and other long term care facilities to at least 125% of the minimum wage. That's just under $16 an hour.

The administration had planned to implement the higher pay rates in July, but says in a written a statement that the timeline was moved up to address the urgent need for direct care workers. Angela Westhoff, CEO of the Maine Health Care Association says she expects the increased pay will help both attract and retain workers.

"Burnout and stress- that's the number one reason why people leave their jobs in the long-term care sector, so we're very conscious and aware of that," Westhoff says.

The $4.5 million in funds to cover the pay increase has already been appropriated. Governor Janet Mills says she'll seek an additional wage adjustment through when she submits a supplemental budget to the legislature. If approved, it would cost $7.6 million.