September 17, 2023
As another data point of how the health care industry is not really a free market, KFF Health News reported on the California legislature passing a bill to increase the minimum wage of health workers. The new minimum wage ramps up to $25 an hour in 2028 for some health facilities, whereas large health facilities and dialysis clinics will see the $25 an hour minimum in 2026. For reference, the minimum wage in California is currently $15.50 an hour. Workers who are affected include "certified nursing assistants, patient aides, and food service workers."
Understandably, the employers who will need to pay the higher wages complained about the bill, with some estimating the bill to cost $8 billion annually. While the exact impact may be difficult to estimate, it does seem that the cost of health care in California will increase. It remains to be seen whether the accessibility of services will meaningfully diminish, or whether the legislature will end up subsidizing healthcare employers. Interestingly, the California Nurses Association also opposed the bill, citing the risk that it might cause employers to lower wages for nurses.