The home care industry is facing a crisis. Some are calling this point in history a ‘tipping point’ for in home care services. That’s because with the federal government continuing to cut Medicaid reimbursements for home care services and an increase in demand driven by the Baby Boomer generation now retiring, it’s a perfect storm that will roll in before long.
Many of the home care aides and other basic service providers across the country, earning about $12 or $13 per hour seems difficult, and for those living in major cities, with the cost of living continuing upward, they can barely make ends meet. Couple that will a high stress and physically demanding job and it leaves many who enter this industry to leave within a year.
And the home care sector is turning to unions to help. Rachel Layne, writing for Money Watch, noted in her blog, The unfortunate truth about most health care jobs:
“Yet for every higher-paying job held by workers like nurses and doctors, more than six workers such as orderlies, phlebotomists and cooks make less than $15 an hour. Nationwide, 70 percent of hospital service workers make less than $15 an hour, NELP found. In the Midwest, it’s 71 percent.
The NELP study defined Midwest industrial states as Minnesota, Indiana, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
By contrast, unionized hospital workers in Seattle, New York and Oakland had wages higher than $15. Higher wages can help with quality of care, the group said, citing collective bargaining agreement data.
“We can take some of the lessons from factories — folks had decent labor standards. They had a collective bargaining agreement, or just more of a voice in general,” Nayak said. By raising wages, “You start to get to a place where people can pay for a family that looks like the kind of wages that folks were getting in the factory jobs.”
What Ms. Layne doesn’t point out in her report is the impact higher wages is having on Seattle, Oakland, and other area businesses. Nor does she include information about how excessive union demands have driven some factories out of business and in search of cheaper labor outside the country.
Technology is being viewed as a major source of support for home care in the years ahead, and as more technological advances are brought online and tested, this could impact the type of, quality of, and availability of opportunities and wages for these very home care workers who are already struggling to stay afloat.
The answer to the main question is there will be plenty of opportunities for home care providers, but how state and federal agencies handle wage demands and reimbursements (who will pay for these services?) will determine just how viable those opportunities will be.
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