Calif. care home owners take fight to stay open to state Capitol

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Care home owners took their complaints to the state Capitol, saying wages set by the US Department of Labor are driving many of them to the brink of closure.

The problem, they said, is compounded because they cannot raise the monthly fees of their residents because most are low-income elderly on government assistance.

“They cannot treat us like the big corporations,” said Agnes Sumagit, a Rancho Cordova care home owner. “We need exemption as small business owners.”

“The skilled nursing [facilities] are being paid up to $8,000 a month for these patients to be there but there’s no room for them anymore,” said Shannon Ayer, a geriatric case manager. “They’re full. We’re going to start sending them out of state and then Medi-Cal won’t even apply. So the whole system will implode if the state doesn’t step in and do something immediately.”

The Labor Department requires care home owners to pay their live-in staff a minimum wage equal to more than $6,000 a month.

But the monthly state and federal government assistance for one elderly resident is just a little more than $1,000.

“Truthfully we are averaging three to four residents, said Janet Valencia, 6Beds NorCal president. “So even if you have six you still do not meet the requirements. It will all go to wages. What about your mortgage? What about your liability insurance?”

According to their group 6Beds, many care homes have already given their 60 days notice of closure.

“How did something noble that a care provider like me who has given their heart into this kind of industry at the very end will just be labeled as wage thieves,” asks Valencia. “How did this happen?”

The U.S. Department of Labor says it will “continue to work with residential home care employers, stakeholders and with employees with education and outreach activities and events, with enforcement actions for compliance, and by assisting workers. The residential home care industry in the San Francisco/Sacramento areas is one with a substantial record of labor violations and exploitation.”

6Beds and their lawyers say they will continue to formulate a compliant business model that the US Department of Labor can recognize and implement.

You can contact Rommel Conclara at and follow him on Twitter @rommelconclara for more information.

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