Home Health Aides’ Low Wages: Turning Public Awareness into Action

Home health aides keep hundreds of thousands of disabled adults and seniors at home and out of costlier settings. Low Medicaid reimbursement rates keep them from making a better wage, and it's up to state governments to address this issue.
Home health aides keep hundreds of thousands of disabled adults and seniors at home and out of costlier settings.

As home care clients, employees, caregivers, and family members, we know one thing for a fact: Home health aides do incredible, compassionate work that enable hundreds of thousands of residents across the country to stay at home and out of costlier, more infectious settings like nursing homes and hospitals. And we certainly know another fact: The work that aides do is invaluable, and it’s time that they begin to receive a fair wage for the hard work they do.

Low aide wages have recently made national headlines and the message is clear: We will need more and more home health aides as America’s population continues to age. But home health care providers are having trouble recruiting and retaining the quality, reliable workforce needed to keep up with the growing demand.

Recently, Hearts for Home Care advocate and BAYADA Home Health Care’s chief government affairs officer, Dave Totaro, submitted his opinion on the matter to STAT News, a media company focused on finding and telling compelling stories about health, medicine, and scientific discovery. He posed the question:

“To say that home health aides’ work is demanding is an understatement. They make it possible for 14 million Americans to stay in their homes and out of expensive and impersonal institutional settings like hospitals and nursing homes. Performing this necessary and in-demand work takes a physical and emotional toll, yet these individuals do it with compassion day in and day out.

So why do we treat home health aides as low-wage, low-value workers?”

The problem lies primarily in states’ low Medicaid funding for home care programs. Though states typically pay an hourly rate for providers who deliver home health aide services, these rates have largely been low for many years, or raised periodically, but at a rate too low to keep up with real costs of living and providing services. Because these rates must cover wages, training, benefits, new hire costs such as background checks and TB shots, and supplies, it is nearly impossible for home health care companies to take such a low rate and provide aides with a wage high enough to compete with industries like fast food and retail.

News coverage of the issue has been effective in bringing greater public awareness to the issue, especially as nearly all individuals will be touched by home care at least once in their lives, whether it be for themselves, a parent, friend, or other loved one. Now is the time to take awareness and turn it into action. Call your state legislator and let them know what home care means to you. Contact advocacy@bayada.com for information on what you can do to share your voice and support home health aides.

Client and Family Advocacy Update

Submitted By Rick Hynick, Director, Government Affairs, Client and Family Advocacy

The Client and Family Advocacy program has some exciting updates that are underway.  When you have a moment, visit our advocacy website at Heartsforhomecare.com and see first-hand about many of the ideas we are working on.  Once you get to the site, click on Families and the Community.  Here you will find many exciting ways to be part of our advocacy program.  Read of a heart-touching story of a Mom who is now involved with advocacy to help her daughter and others like her.  Find an opportunity to share your story and learn of the many ways you could participate in advocacy as well as staying connected with news and resources and a blog.

We are also working on the development of a Grassroots Advocacy plan for our clients and families and staff.  Giving our valued clients and staff a voice and involvement in advocacy activities such as meeting with a legislator or writing a letter or attending a community event as part of a larger movement could strengthen our voice in home care and help us to obtain better resources so we can have a positive impact and give our clients the highest quality of care.  We are also working side by side with Mike Sokoloski, our Manager of Grassroots Advocacy to move forward with a plan than combines advocacy efforts of employees and clients together to work toward a personal assistance OLTL rate increase.

Looking forward to hearing your ideas.  Please email me at rhynick@bayada.com.