One in five direct caregiver positions unfilled in Wisconsin

A coalition of Wisconsin health care organizations is warning that the state's shortage of long-term care providers continues to grow.

The study, put together by several groups across the state, says 1 in 5 direct caregiver positions in the state is going unfilled. That's up from 1 in 7 positions in 2016, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

Starting wages in the profession are so low that many potential workers never apply, according to the report. The median hourly starting wage for personal caregivers is $10.75 an hour, according to the study, while other positions outside health care start at $12 an hour.

The report found Wisconsin's low rate of Medicaid reimbursement is a key factor keeping provider wages low.

Sarah Bass of the Wisconsin Assisted Living Association said with so many unfilled positions, many facilities are cutting back, even though demand for long-term care continues to grow.

"Assisted living providers are closing their doors, or shutting down areas of their assisted living facilities, because they don't have the staff to safely take care of the residents," she said. "They're reducing their admissions."

State lawmakers raised the Medicaid reimbursement for skilled nursing care in the latest state budget, and added about $60 million for family care workers.

Read the full story at Wisconsin Public Radio.

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