The Connecticut General Assembly approved a raise for home health care aides who are reimbursed for their services through the state’s Medicare and Medicaid program. The increase in wages was negotiated on behalf of these caregivers by the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199.
Wages will increase almost immediately, with the first bump taking place next month, moving these caregivers from earning $13.53 to $14.75. Wage increases will continue incrementally until July 1, 2020 when they will peak at $16.25, based on current negotiations.
Caregivers and those who rely on their services celebrated the passage, expected to be signed into law. The legislation passed the senate 32-0.
As reported by The CT Mirror, in the news blog, General Assembly approves raises for home-care workers, written by Mark Pazniokas:
“Hourly wages for most assistants would increase next month from $13.53 to $14.75, then continue to increase in increments until reaching $16.25 on July 1, 2020. They would become eligible for worker’s compensation coverage, while they still lack health care and retirement benefits under the deal.
“Today is a good day for many hardworking men and women in our state,” Malloy said. “These professionals work around the clock to provide lifesaving, critical care for thousands of elderly residents and people who have disabilities – and they do it in homes, which ultimately is better for both patients and for taxpayers.”
Many clients opposed passage of the 2012 law, saying they feared they would lose the right to choose their personal care assistants, often an intimate part of their lives. Those fears were unfounded, and several clients, some in wheelchairs, came to the House chamber to demonstrate their support for the new contract.”
As these laws to increase wages for home care workers are celebrated, there are some who still believe it can upend some of the services disabled and elderly men and women count on. While many of the home care aides affected by this legislation are family caregivers, the federal government has been cutting reimbursement rates through CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) for several years, with more cuts proposed. This is placing increased pressure on the states to make up the difference and, as has happened in California, the state may pass the unanticipated cost burden to local jurisdictions.
Increased wages and benefits for home care providers is certainly a positive direction, but there was no word on how much union membership will cost, how the state will pay for these services in the years ahead, especially with continued deficit spending, and how this might impact private sector home care moving forward.
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