1199 SEIU-Represented Workers Join With WNY Congressman Higgins & Local Families ‘To Stress The Need For The Build Back Better Package To Include Policies Supporting’ The Care Economy
(BUFFALO, NEW YORK) - Western New York Home Care Workers - most notably those represented by 1199 SEIU (Service Employees International Union), and local families recently hosted a roundtable discussion with U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins (New York-26th District) to share the challenges facing those caring for seniors and people with disabilities.
Together, all voiced support for “robust” Federal investments in America’s care economy.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2030 the senior population will outnumber the youth population for the first time in history, driven by the Baby Boomer Generation.
A recent report by the American Association for Retired People (AARP) estimated 53 million Americans, more than one in 5 people, are Caregivers to family members, but they can’t do it alone.
The U.S. will need to fill an estimated 4.7 million home care jobs, including more than one million new jobs, by 2028.
The median national wage for Home Health Workers is around $12 an hour - and even with a slightly higher hourly rate, New York Home Health Workers earn on average just $29,000 annually.
“With over three-plus years in health care, I have always had to work two jobs to survive,” Home Care Worker Linda Wilson said during the roundtable discussion. “Even after I suffered a stroke, I am back at it working two jobs. It’s time for a real investment in home care services, an investment that will change lives. I’m here today to ensure Better Care, Better Jobs Act gets fully funded for our Western New York Caregivers.”
An investment in home and community-based care would help meet the ballooning demand for care and establish a pipeline of Home Care Workers into the next generation by transforming care jobs into good, living-wage, Union jobs - with training opportunities and real career pathways.
To address the need, Congressman Higgins is co-sponsoring the Better Care Better Jobs Act, which was introduced by U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell in the House of Representatives, and is pushing for the Bill to be included in the reconciliation package to ensure President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan vision is carried forward.
The legislation includes a $400 billion investment in home and community-based services (HCBS) that would enable the elderly and those with disabilities to live independently, be close to family and stay in their neighborhoods while receiving care in their homes.
“Much like the need to build bridge infrastructure to support transportation, substantial investments in care infrastructure are necessary to build the bridge to good-paying jobs and a better quality of life for families,” said Congressman Higgins, who also supported a $12.7 billion investment in home and community-based services through the American Rescue Plan, which delivered more than $1.26 billion to New York. “For millions of Americans, Home Health Care Workers are the lifeline that keeps their families working, healthy and together. We need to act now to ensure as a Nation we don’t shortchange the growing need to take care of our aging population.”
1199 SEIU Vice-President Grace Bogdanove said: “Our 1199 Members who work in community-based health services are the invisible backbone of our health care system. They provide the opportunity for an individual to be cared for in their home with the quality and dignity of life we all would choose, while they struggle to provide for their families. As our communities age, this is the fastest growing job title in Western New York. Investment in this care community is absolutely essential at this time.”
A large majority of Americans and hundreds of businesses are supporting the need for major investments in the Nation’s caregiving infrastructure.
Beyond home care investments, the Build Back Better Plan Care Economy Initiatives are expected to include: Creating the first ever Federal Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefit; Extending hearing, vision and dental coverage to seniors through Medicare; Reducing the cost of prescription drugs by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices; Providing free, quality universal Pre-K for all 3- and 4-year-old children; Supporting Workforce Development and Apprenticeship opportunities through partnerships between Labor Unions, colleges and employers; Authorizing the continued expansion of the Child Tax Credit and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, which was set into place in the American Rescue Plan.