After reading about a jobless home care worker in Pennsylvania whose unemployment benefits were ending, the wife of a Virginia man with end-stage dementia who relies on home care paid the worker’s mortgage for a month.
Posted by Jessica Brill Ortiz on November 19th, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Comments Off on Help Advocate for Affordable Health Care in Virginia
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:
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.
Forward this email to your friends and encourage them to contact me too.
I love my job, but it hurts me to see how little respect most of us get for doing it, and how little so many of us direct care workers are paid.
The average hourly wage for nursing assistants in nursing homes and hospitals is less than $12 an hour. I do better than that, but I’m still just a paycheck away from eviction. At the nursing home where I work full-time, they don’t allow us much overtime to keep costs down, so I very seldom get overtime pay. I have to work part-time at another nursing home to make ends meet.
My two sons still live with me—one just moved back home and one never left. One of my boys works, but I have to help him out because the cost of living is so high.
In her opening remarks last Friday morning in Washington, D.C., DCA National Advocacy Coordinator Jessica Brill Ortiz urged the advocates heading to Capitol Hill for the National Day of Action to speak from personal experience when they talked to legislators and their staff about why home care workers need Fair Labor Standards Act protections. “Your stories are very powerful,” she said, “and you can tell them best.”
Their stories aren’t the only tool in these advocates’ belts, but they are certainly one of the most powerful, as seen in the following excerpts from conversations held after their Hill visits with DCA Communications Advisor Elise Nakhnikian.
Timothy Doe (L) waiting to board a train to DC.
“At Senator Kyl’s office, the staff member we talked to knew about the bill. He said his aunt is a caregiver, so he knows how hard we work. He also asked us what we do as caregivers. We described it from the top to the bottom, and he was very impressed.”
— Home care worker and DCA member Timothy Doe, Tucson, Arizona
“I told him the demand is great and the jobs are growing, but we can’t attract new people because we can tell them the job is great but the money is not good.”
Angel Saylor (R) with home care aide Kelvin Jefferson at a DCA focus group
The Direct Care Alliance’s signature program, the Voices Institute, is about to hold its second National Leadership Program. The week-long retreat is an intensive learning journey, and this year’s class is another remarkable group, which will surely join the pioneers from the VI inaugural class to leave its mark on the direct care worker movement. We are returning to the DeKoven Center, where the roots that were planted at the first Voices Institute National Leadership Program will again thrive.
This year, we are welcoming men and women who care for people of all ages in a variety of settings, including nursing homes, hospice, group homes, day programs, assisted living, and home- and community-based programs. Consistent with the DCA’s objectives to build a broadly inclusive movement of empowered direct care workers, the class of 2009 represents a wide spectrum of direct care workers. Continue reading »
As every direct care worker advocate knows, personal and home care aides earn far too little for the important work they do. And now an updated version of PHI’s State Chart Book on Wages for Personal and Home Care Aides (PDF) gives advocates a valuable tool, proving that real wages are actually getting worse.
The chart book analyzes data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, adjusting last year’s wages for inflation to see how their earning power compares to average wages in 1999.
Nationwide, these inflation-adjusted rates, which the chartbook calls “real wages,” have decreased by 3 percent over the past nine years, dropping from $7.50 an hour to just $7.31. Real wages increased in more than half the states during that period, but not enough to make up for their decline in the other 21.
Median wages in 2008 ranged from $7.05 an hour in Texas to $12.55 in Alaska in 2008, or real wages of $5.61 to $9.90. “Wages for personal and home care aides are so low,” says PHI Director of Policy Research Dorie Seavey, “that about 20 percent of these workers received a raise on July 24 when the minimum wage increased to $7.25/hour.”
The chartbook also compares wages to federal poverty level wages for a one-person household.
Direct Care Alliance
Posted by Claire Curry on July 22nd, 2009 at 1:24 pm | Comments Off on Keeping DCWs in the Picture at Health Care Reform Day
On June 25, I took the DCA’s message to Washington, D.C.
I went there with a group of Virginia activists who were urging our legislators to support health care reform now. There were about 200 of us in all, brought together by the Virginia Organizing Project. I rode up on a bus with 56 other people from Lynchburg and Charlottesville. (That’s me in front in the yellow shirt.)
After attending a rally in the morning, we spent the afternoon visiting our representatives in Congress. Congressman Tom Periello (D-5th) greeted us all very warmly. He was busy on the House floor with votes and only got to meet with us briefly, but his staff got to hear many sad and compelling stories about the need for health care reform.
Our goal was to support comprehensive health care reform that includes a public health insurance option, but I made sure to talk to everyone I met with about the DCA’s health care reform principles. I told them our country won’t be able to meet its long-term care needs – either in institutions or in the home, where virtually everyone would prefer to stay as long as possible – until we make the jobs of direct care workers a realistic choice thanks to fair wages, benefits, and working conditions. Continue reading »
Newly chosen members of the Voices Institute’s 2009 National Leadership Program were recognized at the 12th annual Celebrating Nursing Assistants event in Charlottesville, Virginia, on June 16.
Two hundred and thirty-seven CNAs from Central Virginia attended the event, which opened with a musical selection by the Charlottesville Threshold Choir. The choir sings at the bedsides of people who are ill or dying, for their caregivers, and for others in need of musical healing.
Following a buffet dinner and a talk by Dr. Wendi El-Amin, a family practitioner from the University of Virginia, certificates were awarded to Voices Institute inductees Geraldine (Liz) Rush and Robert Stevens and to Angel Saylor, who was on a waiting list at the time. Ms. Saylor has since been accepted.
Awards were then given in recognition of the CNAs with the most years of service and to the Nursing Assistant of the Year in each of five settings: hospital/acute care, community/home health, nursing home, assisted living, and companion/sitter.
A full set of DCA Direct Care Fact Sheets, one for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, is now available in the Resources section of our website.
The one-page sheets were created as a resource for direct care worker advocates and their allies, legislators, policymakers, members of the media, and others interested in direct care issues. They include key facts such as:
The number of home health aides, nursing assistants, and personal and home care aides in the state in 2006 and the projected numbers of each in 2016
The average hourly wage for the state’s direct care workers
What percentage of direct care workers in that state or region are without health insurance
Direct Care Alliance
Shelly McDowell: Hello Lisa, Thanks so much for your interest and support of my research topic. I agree...
Lisa Forhan: I’m so pleased to see DCA taking on this issue. I have worked in this field for almost 3...
Shelly McDowell: Hello Mildred, I will absolutely keep you informed. The topic of WPV is important and dear...
Mildred Rowland: Please keep me informed. Would like to keep CNA’S in my area apprised of what is...
Rita Price: I am a reporter with the Columbus Dispatch in Columbus, Ohio. A colleague and I are working on...