PAC home care chief accuses McKee of using Willa McKee as a prop

PAWTUCKET – An Endorsement for GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Ashley Kalus from a lobbyist for the home healthcare industry to an attack on the incumbent, Governor Dan McKeefor using his 94-year-old mother, Willa McKee, as a “prop” in his campaign ads.

While “McKee likes to support Willa – her elderly and frail mother in her commercials…there’s no doubt she’ll receive quality care for the rest of her life. But yours? Will you?” Nicholas Oliver, executive director of the Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care Political Action Committee, asked at a press conference.

“When your time of need arrives, the governor has done nothing to ensure that you or your loved one will have timely access to home care. Just ask those who are currently on the waiting list,” a said Oliver, a former candidate for East Mayor of Providence and avowed opponent of the COVID vaccination mandate for healthcare workers.

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“The governor does not understand our problems” because his own mother leads a “privileged” life thanks to the money her brother earned for the family running McKee Brothers Oil,” Oliver said.

“Dan’s only career path is through his brother, the McKee who actually ran his family’s multi-generational oil company and the McKee who is really the one who pays for his mother’s care” in these ads where she says “That was my line.'”

“We need leaders who have rolled up their sleeves and worked in the community to provide care, improve access…not Danny in his pajamas on a Zoom call in the basement,” Oliver said.

The McKee campaign’s response: “Here we go again with the Kalus campaign treating the truth as a minor inconvenience while hurling vile insults.

“Willa McKee is a smart and dedicated Rhode Islander. To call her a ‘prop’ belittles her lifelong contributions to making Rhode Island a great place to live, including raising five successful Rhode Islanders and mentoring 13 little ones. -children and many great-grandchildren. Ashley Kalus should be ashamed of herself,” McKee campaign manager Brexton Isaacs said.

When asked, Kalus told reporters gathered for the press conference that she disagreed with Oliver’s comments about McKee’s mother and brother, but welcomed his endorsement as the doorway. -word of a PAC representing homeworkers and this statement from him, in particular: “Ashley Kalus saved our state.”

He tied the statement to his role in overseeing COVID testing and vaccinations, under a state contract with Doctors Test Centers, an Illinois-based company started by her physician husband, Dr. Jeffrey Weinzweig. .

Oliver also announced the PAC’s endorsement of Aaron Guckian, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor over Sabina Matos, the incumbent Democrat.

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A spokesperson for McKee disputed Oliver’s claim that McKee did nothing for the home health care industry.

“Since Gov. McKee’s office, more than $36 million in additional Medicaid funding has gone to home care providers. This is Medicaid alone and does not include money from other health and service agencies. social,” spokesman Matt Sheaff said.

Additionally, he said the current year’s budget — which McKee signed off on — includes $7.5 million to increase reimbursement rates paid to home health agencies so they can raise the salaries of certified practical nurses and housewives who earn respectively 13 and 11 dollars an hour. $15 by January 1, 2025.

Sheaff said the budget includes an additional $12.5 million for increasing home health agency reimbursement rates to increase the hourly wage for “personal care aides” from 17.17 to 24.17 dollars, including “Employer Costs”, and $300,000 to increase the wages of aides working in an “Independent Provider Program” from $13.82 to $15 per hour.,

There is a disconnect.

Oliver acknowledges that the state spends about $80 million in Medicaid dollars on home health care. But he says McKee hasn’t committed to providing the industry with enough money to keep CNAs’ starting pay where it currently is — at $20 an hour — with an infusion of workforce development and coronavirus relief dollars.

When those extra dollars expire in March 2023, he said wages will return to what they were before: $13.50 to $15 an hour.

He also noted with regret that a portion of that $80 million in state-approved Medicaid funding for home care goes toward what he calls “other home care-related pet projects.” domicile of this administration, such as the personal care attendant programme”, and the register of the self-employed. providers “is something the Raimondo and McKee administrations have put in place in order to support their ally in the State House, the SEIU.”

“Just imagine what an extra $100 million would do to solve our problems of statehood if we could get out of the McKee-Matos era,” he said in a hint at the public funding committed to the Pawtucket football stadium project and the renovations of “Superman building” closed in apartments.

The level of assistance Kalus and Guckian pledged to provide state support for the home health care sector was unclear.

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