New York is in the midst of what may be a major crisis in the years ahead within the in home care industry. While Governor Cuomo and others in Albany have been working to find ways to address wages and availability of in home health care workers by setting aside $6 billion to help offset the state’s minimum wage hike and the federal cuts to Medicaid reimbursement within the industry, in upstate and rural regions, many advocates claim those efforts will do little to help the problem.
The major issue, according to these advocates, is about accessibility. With people spread out over a larger geographical region in upstate New York, it requires more time, more mileage, more fuel, and more of other resources simply to get a caregiver to a client’s home. There’s also a significantly lower pool of workers from which to choose and when they have to decide between low wage jobs like working in fast food where the demands are relatively low and working as a home care aide, where the emotional and physical demands can be extreme, there’s not much choice for many people.
As reported in the news article, Minimum-wage hikes could deepen shortage of health aides, published by ABC News and written by Anna Gronewold for the Associated Press:
“These should not be low-wage jobs,” said Bruce Darling, executive director at the Center for Disability Rights. “We’re paying someone who gives you a burger the same as the person who operates your relative’s ventilator or feeding tubes.”
There are currently 2.2 million home health aides and personal care aides in the U.S., with another 630,000 needed by 2024 as the Baby Boomer generation ages, according to the nonprofit research and consulting group PHI. New York state employs about 326,000 home health workers but is predicted to need another 125,000 by 2024.”
People who work in this industry as home care aides and visiting nurses must have true compassion and a true desire to do this as a way to provide support and care for the most vulnerable population in order to continue doing this work for long. If they don’t, with those low wages and other demands of the job, the likelihood or burnout increases.
With New York raising its minimum wage to $15 over the next several years, there are many who worry the issue is only going to grow more problematic, especially with no increases to Medicaid reimbursement rates.