LSC urges Gov. Cooper to address health and human services workforce emergency

Lutheran Services Carolinas President and CEO sent the following letter to North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper about the current workforce emergency in health and human services.

Dear Governor Cooper:

Please add my voice to the many you are assuredly hearing from regarding the health and human services workforce emergency. North Carolina citizens, especially our most dependent Medicaid recipients, are not getting the care they deserve due to inadequate Medicaid funding. This emergency is beginning to be covered in the media and will become an embarrassment to our state, if not a catastrophe.

The emergency is especially bad for providers providing 24/7 care like nursing homes for elders and group homes for the developmentally disabled. We have advocated since before 2018 for a $15 wage for direct care workers.  That is no longer remotely competitive, especially to attract loving people to second and third shift positions. 24/7 providers were already in a workforce crisis prior to COVID, now we are in an emergency. Inadequate Medicaid rates do not allow providers to pay a competitive wage and competitive benefits.

There are workable solutions. At the state level, adequate Medicaid funding especially for round-the-clock providers is essential. At the federal level, an emergency foreign guest worker program, a modern Just Culture regulatory system, and federal Medicaid funding to the states, could greatly improve services. While federal changes are not within your power, your voice could help effect change.

Thank you for your time and attention. We are available to discuss this emergency with you or the appropriate members of your staff.

Sincerely,

Ted W. Goins, Jr.

President and CEO