Gopal Calls for Increased Aid As Health Care Providers Adjust to Rising Minimum Wage

OCEAN TOWNSHIP – Senator Vin Gopal today called for New Jersey to explore ways to assist health care providers who may struggle to retain and recruit staff following increases in the state minimum wage. Senator Gopal’s concerns follow recent testimony by Department of Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson regarding the potential impact of New Jersey’s new minimum wage law on providers who offer mental health, disability support services, long-term nursing home and home health care for low-income residents.

“After hearing from members of New Jersey’s health care provider community, I believe strongly that we must help providers adjust to our rising minimum wage in order to retain and hire hire employees for these important jobs,” said Gopal (D-Long Branch).

“If we fail to help our providers transition, a rising price floor has a real chance to shrink our health care workforce, harming providers and patients alike. After hearing Commissioner Johnson’s testimony, I believe that we must take decisive action to support them as our State’s economy adjusts to the new minimum wage.”

After Governor Phil Murphy signed the state’s new minimum wage law earlier this year, New Jersey’s minimum wage is scheduled to increase to $15 an hour for most workers by 2024, beginning with a hike to $11 an hour in January of 2020.

For many workers employed in mental health, disability support, nursing home, or home health care services, compensation is paid through New Jersey’s Medicaid program. If reimbursement rates for those services are not increased, more businesses may struggle to find the money to pay existing workers or recruit new ones.

“Between wage compression, which pushes health care providers to raise wages to match a rising floor, and the prospect of higher wages in other fields draining the labor pool, we’re facing a potential situation where there just won't be enough workers to help residents living with disabilities,” Gopal said. “I commend the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for working on this issue, and urge my colleagues in the legislature to support efforts to support and protect our essential healthcare industry.”