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  • Tom Boyd

Living Wage

“Oregon Home Care Workers Win Pathway to $15 Per Hour” Earlier this summer, Massachusetts became the first state to increase home care workers’ wages to $15 per hour. The $15 minimum wage movement was originated by fast food workers in major cities, but has since been adopted by workers across several industries nationwide. New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. have already put plans in place to increase minimum wage to $15 per hour gradually. Union groups in several other states are pushing for similar measures against opposition. “ Home Health Care News 9/1/15

The living wage for home care workers is certainly needed. In my opinion they deserve it even more than the fast food and Starbucks employees. Think about what home care workers do (many things I shudder at) and how vital they are to the patient. When Burger King gets the order wrong no one dies nor is health endangered (usually). We can pay for the increased cost of hamburgers and Starbucks to cover the living wage but who pays for the increased cost of the home care worker? The patient or the patient’s family may refuse the service if it costs them more and the Medicare and Medicaid programs will not pay more for the service. In some states the Medicaid program barely pays more for the home care worker visit than is paid to the worker with no allowance for administrative and billing costs. For one example, if the employer organization hires a home care worker who has not been subject to background checks and screening (costs money) the patient can be endangered, the payment for services denied or taken back, and the organization fined or disbarred from Medicare and Medicaid. We need to advocate that Medicare and Medicaid raise their payments to cover the living wage. We also need to be aware that the organizations that employ home care workers need to stay alive.

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