Clinic facilities

California health clinic workers will receive state bonuses

About 70,000 community health clinic workers in California will receive $1,000 retention bonuses as part of a last-minute budget deal between Governor Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers.

The payments will go to frontline healthcare workers who staff so-called “safety net” clinics where millions of Californians seek care when they have Medi-Cal coverage or no insurance at all. Their employers are rural health clinics, federally licensed health centers, and health centers run by the Indian Health Service.

One labor group, the Service Employees International Union California, said its members have been advocating for retention payments for a year to reward workers who serve many low-income, immigrant and refugee families.

“We are dedicated to our patients and work our best to ensure they receive timely access to quality care, but without enough healthcare workers it has been a real challenge,” said Angela Millan, who guides patients through the admissions process at Modesto’s Golden Valley Health Center.

Millan said that because the right staff aren’t in place, she’s seen patients wait weeks for an appointment or hours in the waiting room, only to learn they can’t be seen. .

“The retention bonus is an important step to help retain more healthcare workers to serve California’s poorest communities,” said SEIU 521 member MIllan.

The Department of Health Services will oversee the distribution of retention payments, just as it does with a broader bonus program for health care workers that the governor and lawmakers approved earlier this year. This round benefited front-line healthcare workers at acute care hospitalspublic hospitals, affiliated physician groups, skilled nursing facilities, and even many companies subcontracting to these facilities.

Details of these new bonuses, which are part of the clinic’s Workforce Stabilization Payment Program, are contained in Assembly Bill 204 and Senate Bill 121.

Congresswoman Wendy Carrillo, D-Los Angeles, said community clinics must be able to recruit staff who can meet the needs of the state’s most vulnerable residents.

“The announcement of these retention bonuses brings hope to thousands of people across California as it will help ensure that community clinics across California are adequately staffed and resourced,” Carrillo said in a statement. release published by SEIU California. “Our frontline healthcare workers have been the first line of defense against the devastating onslaught of COVID-19, and the staffing challenges they have faced have left them neglected and overwhelmed. We must be bold in our efforts to give clinic workers everything they need to succeed.

SEIU California, which has partnered with a number of clinic operators to advocate for retention payments, noted that more than seven in 10 community health center patients are people of color, one in two are Latinos and more than half do fall under the federal government. poverty line.

This story was originally published August 29, 2022 3 p.m.

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Cathie Anderson covers health care for The Bee. Growing up, her blue-collar parents paid for care out of their own pockets. She joined The Bee in 2002, with roles including business columnist and editor. She previously worked at newspapers such as Dallas Morning News, Detroit News and Austin American-Statesman.