Workers, including nurses, are reportedly leaving their jobs in Texas nursing homes because the pay is worse than McDonald's and other fast food restaurants (video below).
"You can start off at McDonald’s at $13-$14 an hour," Scot Kibbe, director of government relations for the Texas Health Care Association, told KXAN. "There are so many easier jobs that pay better, it's hard to keep making that decision to go back."
"Sometimes they can go down to the drive-thru window at McDonald’s or Wendy’s and make more money," Julie Sulik, vice president of Clinical Services for Southwest Long Term Management, told The Dallas Morning News.
"Morale can be hurt when we have a hiring freeze or a wage freeze, because we can’t compete," Sulik added.
According to Sulik, Texas' low Medicaid reimbursement rate is a big reason why the pay is low.
The annual turnover rate for nurses in Texas nursing homes is 94 percent, according to the 2013 Nursing Facility Cost Report.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas has refused to expand Medicaid -- and receive a huge influx of federal dollars -- under the Affordable Care Act, just as his predecessor Gov. Rick Perry refused to do.
In Texas, 85 percent of the people in nursing homes depend on Medicaid or Medicare.
"What our providers tell us is their inability to pay competitive wages is a major factor [in turnover]," Kibbe told The Dallas Morning News.
"It’s important to keep in mind where Texas is heading," Kibbe added. "We are on the verge of significant growth in elderly in this state. Obviously people are living longer and a lot of people are moving to Texas."
There is more than a $300 million shortfall between what nursing homes spend and what they are reimbursed, according to Texas Health Care Association President Kevin Warren.
"At the end of the day, employees have their own responsibilities to their own families," Warren told the newspaper. "You have some of the most compassionate and caring people that work in long-term care. When you lose a staff member that’s been there for many years … it is a very difficult decision for them to uproot and move."