California health care workers may soon see a significant increase in their minimum wage, as the state legislature has approved a measure to raise it to $25 per hour. The bill, known as SB 525, now awaits Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature. This wage hike would apply to all employees of health care facilities, including cleaning staff, food service workers, and medical coders.
The bill proposes a phased implementation of the minimum wage increase. Large health care facilities with over 10,000 full-time employees and dialysis clinics would start with a minimum wage of $23 per hour in 2024, followed by raises to $24 in 2025 and finally $25 in 2026. Small health care facilities, urgent care clinics, and skilled nursing facilities would see a slower phase-in, with the minimum wage reaching $25 per hour by 2027, 2028, and 2028, respectively.
Rural hospitals and facilities serving a higher number of Medicare and Medi-Cal patients would have an even slower phased implementation, with the minimum wage rising to $18 per hour in 2024 and gradually increasing to $25 per hour by 2033.
The bill also includes provisions to establish a waiver program for health care facilities in financial distress, allowing them to temporarily delay the minimum wage increases. It also blocks local ordinances that would impose higher minimum wage requirements until 2034.
The passage of this bill has sparked debate among legislators. Republican lawmakers generally oppose the measure, while Democrats support it. Governor Newsom, who has expressed concerns about the state’s budget deficit, now has 30 days to either sign the bill into law or veto it.
The initial estimate for the cost of this bill was over $973 million annually, only accounting for state-owned health care facilities. However, after negotiations between SEIU California and health care industry groups, the revised version of the bill is expected to have a lower cost.
This measure aims to address the growing concerns about low wages for health care workers in California. By raising the minimum wage to $25 per hour, lawmakers hope to provide these essential workers with fair compensation for their valuable contributions to the health care system.
– Minimum wage: The legally mandated minimum amount that employers must pay their workers per hour of work.
– Phased implementation: A gradual approach to implementing changes or reforms over a period of time.
– Medicaid: A joint federal and state program that provides health coverage to people with low income, including some low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults, and people with disabilities.
– Waiver program: A program that allows exemptions or temporary delays in complying with certain requirements or regulations.
– [Source article]