Archive for ‘Medicaid expansion’

Obamacare Gave Me Back My Medicaid Coverage

Posted by on May 5th, 2014 at 1:46 pm | Comments Off on Obamacare Gave Me Back My Medicaid Coverage

Dorothy Lee is a home health aide living in New York City who signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare), with the help of our Get Direct Care Workers Covered initiative.

Dorothy Lee

Dorothy Lee

I’ve been working for an agency here in New York for three years. Before that, I worked at a Ritz-Carlton in Florida. When I moved here I wanted to switch to working with the elderly. I like working with people, and when my grandmother was old I didn’t get to give her any attention. It feels good to be able to help other people’s grandparents.

When I worked at the hotel I had insurance through Aetna, but I started going without insurance soon after I started doing home health care. At first I had Medicaid through Health Plus, but they took it away because I was earning too much. They said I have to make less than $700 a month to get back on Medicaid.  Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on May 5th, 2014 at 10:23 am | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News

An Older Americans Month toolkit from Eldercare Workforce Alliance helps journalists and other stakeholders find publications, programs, and personal stories that focus on the health and safety of older Americans from EWA member organizations—including DCA.

“Home care services are among the most important work there is, and if we want it to be done well, dedicated home care workers should be compensated at a level that reflects their commitment and skills,” says an editorial in Maine’s Portland Press-Herald.

Vermont home care workers have reached a tentative agreement with the state that includes significant raises and an annual cost-of-living adjustment.

An excellent new publication from Center for Law and Social Policy explains a crucial but often overlooked part of compensation: direct care workers and other low-income workers are far less likely to get paid leave than higher-wage workers. The brief describes recent and pending laws and policies aimed at leveling the paid time off playing field.

Want to know how to find and keep good direct care workers? Higher pay attracts talented staff, this study finds, but that alone is not enough. To keep them, you also need good working conditions.  Continue reading »

Greater Houston DCA Members Take Time to Recharge

Posted by on April 21st, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Comments Off on Greater Houston DCA Members Take Time to Recharge
Carla Washington

Carla Washington

“You touch with your heart long before you touch with your hand,” said one of the almost 200 participants attending the Care for Elders 17th Annual Direct Care Workers Conference in Houston, Texas, earlier this month.

Direct care workers came together to recharge, reconnect and remember why the care and services they provide to the elderly and people with disabilities is vital work, provided not only in Houston but by more than 300,000 direct care workers across the state. Members of Greater Houston Direct Care Alliance  (GHDCA) start planning early to ensure they’re available to attend the annual conference, because GHDCA’s members recognize the importance of taking care of themselves so they can provide quality care, services and support to their consumers. Continue reading »

Helping Obamacare Work for Direct Care Workers

Posted by on April 17th, 2014 at 11:21 am | Comments Off on Helping Obamacare Work for Direct Care Workers

DCA’s Get Direct Care Workers Covered initiative has been helping direct care workers and other low-income workers in New York state get affordable health coverage through the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Hadas Thier, the Outreach & Enrollment Coordinator for the initiative, recently answered questions from DCA’s Elise Nakhnikian about how the new law is helping direct care workers–and what could be done to make it work even better.

Hadas Thier (R) doing outreach

Hadas Thier (R) doing outreach

How were you able to help direct care workers with health insurance enrollment?

Over the last six months, we’ve reached out to hundreds of direct care workers in New York with information and assistance. It’s been really important to have an aggressive outreach campaign because so many people do not know what the Affordable Care Act is, how its marketplace works, and how it applies to them. This is doubly the case with many direct care workers, who may not have access to information through the internet, who may experience language barriers, and who often are isolated at their jobs if they work in individual homes.

Most of the direct care workers I spoke to had heard of “Obamacare” and wanted desperately to have health insurance, but did not know how to go about doing so. Across the board, workers were grateful to have clear information about what coverage options might be available to them and their families.  Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on March 11th, 2014 at 4:43 pm | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News

Olympia Dukakis on why we need to take better care of home care aides, who take such good care of the rest of us.

This ad from the Healthcare for All Virginians Coalition—including DCA—features quotes from GOP governors who expanded their states’ Medicaid programs.

A direct care worker in Britain is leading a campaign to encourage more people–especially men–to join her profession.  Meanwhile a British activities director is urging more of his fellow men to become care workers, also in order to head off a “drastic” looming shortage.

Direct care workers are lobbying for better pay and better care in Illinois, Washington and Delaware.

NPR reporter Daniel Zwerdling is looking for CNAs, nurses and others at hospitals and nursing homes who have suffered on the job injuries. If that applies to you, check out this online survey.

A retired CNA in Wisconsin won a million-dollar lotteryContinue reading »

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on February 11th, 2014 at 12:16 pm | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News

A MomsRising blog carnival on how the Affordable Care Act is affecting health care coverage includes posts from DCA member and home care worker Mohan Varghese and from DCA’s Jessica Brill Ortiz and Elise Nakhnikian.

A worker from DCA Board Chair Tracy Dudzinski’s Wautoma, Wisconsin-based home care coop is one of the experts quoted in this NPR report on the growing trend of seniors caring for seniors.

Janice Lynch Schuster on why direct care workers deserve and need a living wage.

Direct care workers made Salon Magazine’s list of 11 jobs where an honest day’s work will leave you in poverty.

PHI has a new fact sheet on home care workers.

Direct care workers at a Fresno assisted living home protested over unpaid wages and overtime totaling $1.6 million.

Direct care workers in New Zealand rallied in support of a worker who sued for higher wages on the basis of gender inequality. (She won, but her case is being appealed by her employer.)

A new chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the huge growth in projected demand for direct care workers–especially home care workers–in the next eight years.

Advocates Launch Medicaid Expansion Campaign in Texas

Posted by on February 10th, 2014 at 12:49 pm | Comments Off on Advocates Launch Medicaid Expansion Campaign in Texas

Texas_left_me_outAs part of our Get Direct Care Workers Covered initiative, DCA is working with direct care workers and ally organizations/coalitions in key states to advocate for Medicaid expansion, so more direct care workers and their families have access to affordable, quality health care. One of these states is Texas.

Over six million Texans are uninsured, giving the state the highest rate of uninsured people in the U.S., but state lawmakers decided not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Their decision means Texas has lost billions of federal dollars that could have expanded health coverage. And that leaves more than one million Texans, including many direct care workers and their families, in a health care coverage gap, ineligible for Medicaid and also for financial assistance with policies bought through the new health insurance exchange. Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on January 28th, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News

The U.S. economy does not value caregivers, writes Anne-Marie Slaughter in The Atlantic.

The text of a tweet chat about professional and family caregivers and direct care care consumers that was hosted last Wednesday by Caring Across Generations, DCA and family caregiver advocate Denise Brown.

A “good jobs” executive order could help direct care workers by setting standards for jobs paid for by government funding such as Medicare and Medicaid.

A Maryland direct care worker shares her experience and urges respect and a living wage for direct care workers.

Home health worker Theresa Johnson was among the SEIU members who visited the Indiana statehouse recently to urge their governor to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

The New Face of Our Economy: Direct Care Workers

Posted by on January 13th, 2014 at 1:01 pm | Comments Off on The New Face of Our Economy: Direct Care Workers
Jessica Brill Ortiz

Jessica Brill Ortiz

Fifty years into the war on poverty, it’s time to focus on direct care workers, explains DCA’s Jessica Brill Ortiz in the Huffington Post.

“As we work to advance the goals of the war on poverty, improving the economic security of direct care workers and their families should be at the top of the list, because improving direct care workers’ wages, benefits and career advancement opportunities will let us accomplish three important goals,” writes Jessica in The New Face of Our Economy.  “We can help ensure a stable, qualified direct care workforce large enough to meet growing demand. We can transform one of our fastest-growing job categories so that it bolsters our middle class and strengthens our economy instead of swelling the ranks of the working poor. And we can deliver on the promise of a nation where hard work is rewarded and respected.

Her piece outlines several current and pending policy initiatives that will help accomplish those goals.

Help Advocate for Affordable Health Care in Virginia

Posted by on November 19th, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Comments Off on Help Advocate for Affordable Health Care in Virginia
Jessica Brill Ortiz

Jessica Brill Ortiz

Virginia has an important opportunity to expand the state’s Medicaid program, which provides low-income Virginians with crucial access to affordable health care–and you can help make it happen!

Governor-elect McAuliffe has expressed strong support for accepting federal money to expand Medicaid, but the decision is not just up to him. The Virginia legislature and related commission also have a say, and their support is not guaranteed.

If you live in Virginia, your elected officials need to hear from YOU about how important it is that Virginia expand the state’s Medicaid program, so more than 400,000 low-income Virginians can have access to affordable health care. Tell them to do the right thing for Virginia’s direct care workers and the consumers they serve!

Two easy ways to help:

  1. Email me or call me at 202.236.4593 to learn how we can help you tell your legislators why affordable health care matters in Virginia. You can make a difference in as little as five minutes.
  2. Forward this email to your friends and encourage them to contact me too.

For more information about Medicaid and Medicaid expansion, check out this DCA information sheet.

Standing up for Myself and My Fellow Workers by Joining DCA

Posted by on October 18th, 2013 at 4:43 pm | 2 Comments »
Mohan Varghese

Mohan Varghese

The first time I contacted Direct Care Alliance was after I was told by my employer that I would be accompanying him on the road for trips that lasted several days and would be paid for only 12 hours a day of my time. My immediate thought was: I will contact the Department of Labor (DOL) and they will take care of it.

But when I contacted DOL, I learned that they could not help because we home care workers were shut out of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) under the companionship exemption. I searched online to find a way to stand up for myself and my fellow workers, who put in long hard hours doing skilled tasks only to be mischaracterized as companions or elder sitters.

I found DCA during my search. Continue reading »

Why I Advocate for Medicaid Expansion

Posted by on October 8th, 2013 at 9:13 am | 1 Comment »
Vernell Simmons

Vernell Simmons

Last month, I traveled from my home in Houston to Austin to meet with people from nonprofit organizations around Texas. I represented Direct Care Alliance and our local chapter, the Greater Houston Direct Care Alliance. Many groups were represented—low-income children, people with mental illness, and so on. We were all there to talk about how to support implementation of the Affordable Care Act–including getting Texas to expand its Medicaid program.

I am currently caring for two private-duty clients in my job as a home care aide. To pay the bills and get affordable health insurance, I have to work full-time at another job, as a claims assistant in my regional VA office. Most of my co-workers and friends who are home care workers do not have any health insurance, because they are either employed by individuals who can’t provide them with coverage or by agencies that do not offer it. In Texas we have the highest percentage of uninsured people in the country. That is why I am an advocate for getting Medicaid expansion passed in the state of Texas. We need to get these people insured. Continue reading »

A Texas Progress Report from DCA’s Executive Director

Posted by on September 23rd, 2013 at 8:13 am | Comments Off on A Texas Progress Report from DCA’s Executive Director
Carla D. Washington

Carla D. Washington

Ninety-seven years old. One hundred years old. One hundred and four years old. These are ages of just three of the clients that I had the privilege of meeting while spending time with the Greater Houston Direct Care Alliance (GHDCA). It was an eye-opening and humbling experience to be invited into the assisted living facility where they live to observe the skilled care provided lovingly by Dream Care home care workers.

The owner of Dream Care Home Care Agency, LaDonna Williams, considers her work much more than a business. It’s a life she’s chosen, and she instills this same feeling in others by always making herself available for consultation with her workers, her clients’ families, and the staff of the facilities where some of her clients live. Most importantly, she models for her workers why this profession of theirs demands devotion and deserves respect. Continue reading »

Advocating for Medicaid Expansion Under Health Care Reform

Posted by on May 20th, 2013 at 4:23 pm | 3 Comments »
Jessica Brill Ortiz

Jessica Brill Ortiz

Hundreds of thousands of direct care workers have no health insurance because they cannot afford pricey premiums and copays, yet they’re not eligible for coverage under Medicaid, the joint federal-state health care program for low-income Americans. The Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as health care reform or Obamacare) provides important ways for these workers and other low-income individuals and families to get affordable health care coverage.

Unfortunately, resistance from state lawmakers and others opposed to key aspects of the law is limiting access to affordable health care in some states. That’s why Direct Care Alliance, our members and allies are advocating for affordable health care through the ACA—and we hope you’ll join us!  Continue reading »

Advocating for Medicaid Expansion in Texas: I Am a Rock, Not a Pebble

Posted by on March 11th, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Comments Off on Advocating for Medicaid Expansion in Texas: I Am a Rock, Not a Pebble
Valda Spence

Valda Spence

Doing advocacy work is like knocking stones together: the more stones you have, the more noise you can make. I don’t want to just tap a couple of pebbles together; I want to grab a whole handful of big rocks and make a righteous noise.

I headed up to Austin last week with a group of direct care workers brought together by Direct Care Alliance. We were there for a March 5 day of advocating for Medicaid, the government program that provides health insurance for low-income people, and I had been asked to be one of the featured speakers at the rally.

It was my first time in Austin, and my first time ever to attend a rally, let alone speak at one. I was very excited to be given such a good opportunity to make my voice heard about something I care deeply about.  Continue reading »

Join Us in Austin on March 5 for a Medicaid Rally

Posted by on February 10th, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Comments Off on Join Us in Austin on March 5 for a Medicaid Rally

On March 5, people from over 150 local, state and national organizations–including Direct Care Alliance (DCA)–will gather in Austin for a Texas Medicaid Matters advocacy day. Medicaid is the program that provides low-income individuals and families with crucial access to affordable health care. Together, we will call on legislators and policymakers to expand Medicaid so more direct care workers and other Texans have the health care they need.

DCA and Texas Well and Healthy, the grassroots campaign that is helping to organize the advocacy event, are covering the main participation costs for a limited number of attendees. We hope you will join us.

Space is limited. Contact us now to reserve your place! Continue reading »

The President Proposes New Rules to Implement ACA Provisions

Posted by on December 4th, 2012 at 2:07 am | Comments Off on The President Proposes New Rules to Implement ACA Provisions

On November 20, President Obama issued several proposed rules to implement key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which makes quality health insurance affordable and accessible to millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of direct care workers. One rule would prohibit health insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher premiums based on a pre-existing or chronic condition or other factors, including gender and occupation. Premiums could vary only within set limits and based only on factors such as age, tobacco use, and family size.

Another rule outlines policies and standards for coverage of a core package of items and services for consumers, called essential health benefits, that health plans in individual and small group markets would be required to offer. Continue reading »