Home care may be the number one job creator in the country at the moment (and is expected to remain that way for at least the next ten years), it’s not producing high wage jobs. Despite efforts by the Department of Labor and other minimum wage increase advocates, the vast majority of in home health care providers are considered low wage workers and the pay often keeps them living in poverty.
While the solution is simple on the surface (increase wages), there is a major problem: when wages are increased, businesses must pass along those increases in order to remain profitable. That would usually fall onto the laps of the families and individuals who need in home care support. And that’s not always feasible.
According to some indications, unless the federal government increases financial support for these workers, there may be little that can be done to increase overall wages.
In the blog, Study: Government Needs to Boost Child and Home Health Care Funding, written by Jessica Goodheart and published by Capital & Main:
“Restaurant and retail employers have been able to pass on modest price increases to consumers, according to research cited by the study. But home care and early child care industries are more constrained because families have difficulty shouldering any increases to the already high cost of care in what is a labor-intensive business.
Jacobs says the solution will ultimately lie with increased funding at the federal and state level, but the study also highlights local efforts to address the funding gaps in child care and home health care, including Measure A, a proposition on the June 5 ballot in Alameda County, and the expansion of pre-kindergarten in New York City.”
However, the federal government has actually been cutting spending on in home care support services for the past several years. When the Affordable Care Act of 2010 was passed (more commonly referred to as Obamacare), Medicaid spending on in home care services was cut by 14 percent over a period of several years to help pay for it. Since then, there have been other inquiries into how much more could be cut for reimbursement rates for these services.
That means while studies may very well indicate that increased federal support could improve pay rates for these workers, actions on the federal level have been opposite. Raising wages at the private level will mean raising costs for the elderly and disabled and their families and many who need in home care support can’t afford more increases to these expenses.