Gov. Kemp’s Removal of the Direct Care Worker Wage Increase in FY 2024 Budget Harms Georgians
TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Caring Across Generations
DATE: June 1, 2023
As your newsroom continues coverage of Georgia’s FY 2024 budget, please consider the below information that outlines how Governor Brian Kemp’s removal of the direct care worker wage increase will harm thousands of Georgians.
On May 5, Georgia Gov. Kemp included a procedural disregard of the $6 per hour wage increase recommendation for direct care workers supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the state’s final FY 2024 budget.
The wage increase, a recommendation from a wage review study funded using federal dollars allocated to Georgia from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, received bipartisan approval in the state legislature and would have increased pay for direct care workers from $10.63 to $16.70 per hour.
No matter what Gov. Kemp says, here is what you need to know about the importance of investing in Georgia’s direct care workforce:
A federally funded study by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) found direct care workers deserve a long-overdue wage increase.
DBHDD reviewed payment rates and policies for Medicaid services providing aging and disability care in the home and community, programs known as New Options Waivers (NOW) and Comprehensive Support Waivers (COMP).
The draft recommendations, released in December 2022, proposed a pay rate increase for direct care workers, to $15.18 per hour.
DBHDD accepted public comments through Jan. 20, 2023. In April, after reviewing the public comments, many of which supported a higher pay rate for direct care workers, the Department shared its final recommendation: an increase in hourly wages to $16.70 for direct care workers serving some Medicaid home and community-based services programs.
Notably, the wage increase for direct care workers received bipartisan approval in the Georgia Legislature.
The Georgia House and Senate jointly supported this wage increase in the FY 2024 budget by including the following language in the final budget sent to the Governor’s desk: “Begin implementation of the 2022-2023 provider rate study pending approval by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).”
Implementing the study would have cost $107 million annually and also would have led to $200 million in additional funding from the federal government.
Georgia’s care needs are only growing; the care workforce is rapidly increasing as our families grow and get older. However, the workforce faces challenges: low pay, long hours, lack of benefits, underpaid labor, and long hours.
Elected officials must not only make care jobs good, living-wage jobs to fix the deepening staffing crisis but also to begin to uproot the structural racism that keeps care work undervalued.
The poor quality of direct care jobs is directly linked to anti-Black racism and sexism. This work is done overwhelmingly by women—largely by Black, Brown, and immigrant women—but these jobs often lack the most basic protections, rights and benefits, including adequate wages, overtime pay, paid leave and the right to form a union.
Gov. Kemp’s blatant disregard for direct care workers and the disabled people, aging adults and family caregivers they support proves once more that working people in Georgia aren’t his priority.
Our care workers deserve real pay, on-the-job benefits and access to paid leave.
Georgia’s direct care worker shortage, caused by low wages and poor benefits, harms everyone in the state – especially family caregivers, disabled people and aging adults.
Caring Across Generations is a national organization of family caregivers, care workers, disabled people, and aging adults working to transform the way we care in this country so that care is accessible, affordable and equitable— and our systems of care enable everyone to live and age with dignity.
To achieve our vision, we transform cultural norms and narratives about aging, disability and care; win federal and state-level policies; and build power amongst the people touched by care. For more information, visit CARINGACROSS.ORG.