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Advocates Push NY to Increase Home-Care Workers' Pay


Monday, January 17, 2022   

Advocates for New Yorkers with disabilities are calling on state lawmakers to take action on policies that would raise earnings for home-care workers.

The Fair Pay for Home Care Act would increase the pay for workers in home- and community-based care services to at least 150% of the minimum wage.

Heidi Siegfried - health policy director with Center for Independence of the Disabled New York - said low pay in this field has contributed to high worker turnover, which could leave people without the care they need.

"So, the person may end up going without care for a day," said Siegfried. "Not able to get out of bed, not able to transfer. Depending on your disability, some people are very dependent on the worker to live their lives."

Siegfried said her group also hopes New York Gov. Kathy Hochul will slate a home-care worker pay raise in the state budget being announced tomorrow.

Federal funding for these workers through the Build Back Better Act is still up in the air since the U.S. Senate hasn't voted on the plan.

According to the home-care staffing company PHI National, in 2020, the median income for care workers in New York was just over $21,000 a year.

Siegfried said the state must tackle the problem of low wages.

"We would really like to see New York step up to the plate and say, 'We are going to provide these services. Our people with disabilities need to be able to get care in their homes,'" said Siegfried.

For many people who require these services, Siegfried noted, another impact of high turnover in home care is the potential loss of independence.

"But the other thing that can happen is that people can end up being unnecessarily put into nursing facilities," said Siegfried. "People would prefer to be living at home, and we need to have a home-care workforce that can support them in that."

The Fair Pay for Home Care Act is now in the Senate Health Committee in Albany.

Disclosure: Center for Independence of the Disabled New York contributes to our fund for reporting on Disabilities. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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