Currently, Massachusetts’ home health care aides and other workers are demanding action within the state legislature to increase reimbursement rates for the services these men and women provide. Currently, home care aides earn $13.05 per hour, on average and many are saying this isn’t enough for the high demands of the job.
One home care aide stated that she drives over an hour each way to support one of her clients and that she could make more money working in fast food after ‘a couple of pay bumps.’ She noted, though, that, “the work I do is important.” She made this comment at an advocacy meeting calling for the state to increase reimbursement rates for the entire home care industry.
Many of these advocates claim these services save the state millions in nursing home and other costlier care options and while the ratio of caregivers to those who need support is 1:2 (1 caregiver per 2 individuals in need), they say more are needed.
According to Jim Kinney, writing for Mass Live in the blog, Home health care aides push for a raise, saying $13 per hour is not enough for demanding work:
“Al Norman, executive director of Mass Home Care, said home health care saves the state in other ways by keeping people at home and out of nursing homes, where Medicare costs are higher. From 2000 to 2016, Massachusetts cut the nursing home population by 37 percent. That worked out to a $1 billion savings in nursing home costs in 2016 alone, he said.
Priscilla L. Chalmers, executive director of WestMass ElderCare, said her agency services 4,000 people in Holyke, Hadley, Chicopee, South Hadley, Granby, Belchertown and Ware.
“And we are seeing more people who are sicker and less able to care for themselves,” she said.”
The state Senate is looking to take up a budget amendment soon that could apply about $14 million in unspent federal money toward boosting wages for these home care providers. This would equal about a $0.80 increase in hourly rates for homemakers and personal care homemakers, and a $0.40 increase for home care aides.
There was no comment from these advocates regarding the percentage of men and women performing this work who are independent, taking care of family members, or working through agencies.
Some of these advocates claim that the home care aides and other caregivers who work for agencies have been left even further behind, and that something needs to be done to boost wages and working conditions.