By Kelly Gooch of Beckers Hospital Review
The California legislature has passed a bill that would establish a $25 hourly minimum wage requirement for workers in hospitals and other medical settings.
The bill, proposed in February, now awaits a decision by Gov. Gavin Newsom and comes after union and hospital representatives reached agreement on how such a requirement could be addressed.
Under the bill, cities and counties would be blocked from increasing pay via ballot measures for 10 years.
Workers at healthcare facilities with 10,000 or more full-time equivalent employees would earn $23 per hour starting in 2024, with pay increasing to $25 an hour in 2026. That affects workers including nursing assistants, medical coders, launderers and hospital gift shop workers, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Workers at a hospital with a high governmental payer mix, an independent hospital with an elevated governmental payer mix, a rural independent covered healthcare facility, or a covered healthcare facility that is owned, affiliated or operated by a county with a population of less than 250,000 as of Jan. 12 would earn $18 per hour starting next year, with pay increasing to $25 an hour in 2033.
Urgent care clinics, skilled nursing facilities and other smaller facilities would be required to pay workers $21 per hour in 2024, with pay increasing to $25 per hour in 2028, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The bill allows some healthcare facilities to apply for a temporary pause or alternative phase-in schedule of the minimum wage requirements if they have documentation proving financial distress.
Carmela Coyle, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association, described the bill as a balanced approach that supports workers and protects jobs and access to care in vulnerable communities.
"The bill creates a pathway to improving wages for our lower-wage healthcare workers, while also recognizing the needs of our state's most troubled hospitals," Ms. Coyle said in a statement shared with Becker's.
"And, by preempting local ballot measures on minimum wage and compensation, all healthcare workers will be paid equitably regardless of where they work. SB 525 demonstrates hospitals' commitment to healthcare workers, patients, and communities."
Tia Orr, executive director of Service Employees International Union California, also praised the bill.
"Healthcare in California will be more accessible and equitable because workers and healthcare providers stood together and stood up for patient care," she said in a statement.
She added that the bill also invests in a strong, diverse workforce.
"By and large, Black and brown workers have held the lowest-paid and most overlooked jobs in healthcare, so SEIU workers are particularly proud of this landmark investment in equity," Ms. Orr said.
Read more about the bill here.