An employee works in the coronavirus unit at the Durgin Pines nursing home in Kittery in this 2020 photo. Credit: Courtesy of Jabbar Fazeli

The Mills administration is boosting MaineCare reimbursement rates for nursing and residential homes starting Jan. 1, officials said Wednesday.

The higher reimbursement rates, signed into law earlier this year, will allow those facilities to increase pay for direct care workers to at least 125 percent of the state’s minimum wage.

“Providing quality care for Maine’s most vulnerable people takes commitment and compassion. Our nurses, direct care workers and assisted living staff have proven they have both, especially during the pandemic,” Gov. Janet Mills said.

The extra money will help retain workers and also recruit new workers who are urgently needed, she said.

The higher rates were supposed to go into effect in July 2022, but the governor stepped up the schedule in line with legislative intent.

The administration will propose an additional $7.6 million to reinstate a “supplemental wage adjustment” to help nursing and residential facilities with labor costs through the rest of the fiscal year.