The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services announced in a press release Wednesday that eligible North Carolina Medicaid direct care workers will soon receive a wage increase
Eligible direct care workers as well as support staff will also receive a one-time bonus.
According to the press release, eligible direct care workers include those working in certain waiver programs, intermediate care facilities for people with intellectual disabilities and community-based settings like nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
These changes were made possible by the newly adopted North Carolina state budget, which includes both the necessary funds for the bonus and a provision regarding wage increases for direct care workers.
The state allocated $133 million for these bonuses, with a maximum bonus amount of $2,000 per worker.
“We are pleased this budget allocation was approved, acknowledging the critical role of these often-overlooked health care heroes,” Dave Richard, deputy secretary for NC Medicaid, said in the press release.
These workers commit to both physical and emotional labors such as bringing food, helping people use the restroom and providing for those with mental and physical disabilities while receiving an average hourly wage of only $11 to $12, Richard said in an interview with The Daily Tar Heel.
Additionally, Richard said that the COVID-19 pandemic has made direct care workers’ jobs even more difficult as they continue to provide crucial services in potentially dangerous environments.
“In the middle of COVID, they're going into places where you might not know whether (a patient) or a family member that you wanted to see has COVID,” Richard said.