Graham-Cassidy Could Negatively Affect In-Home Care For Elderly

09/19/2017 12:55 pm ET
Image courtesy of David York Agency

The GOP is taking one final opportunity to gut Obamacare. The Graham-Cassidy bill will impact the most vulnerable Americans— those who are already ill and in need of home health assistance. Home Health Aides are among the most essential employees in health care and remain the most underpaid. The low wages put a stress on these workers and could result in poor care for those most in need because fewer people will go into this field if they cannot support themselves and their families. A shortage of Home Health Aides in the field means that we will see a far greater burden put on nursing home facilities that are already understaffed and underfunded; fewer people will be able to reside in their homes, which often makes a difference in how one recovers; finally, families will face even greater financial burdens if Graham-Cassidy is passed into law removing provisions for people with Medicaid and some Medicare benefits. For many, these benefits are how they subsidize the cost of home health care. Without it, not only will more families be in debt, but our economy will also suffer as a result. Baby Boomers are now becoming senior citizens and living longer. There are more of them and it wont be long before Generation X, many of whom are only two years from becoming AARP eligible, will join them.

Tia M. Ivy is a home care aide and a substitute educational aide. I asked Tia to write a piece for me about Home Health Care Aides after learning about the low wages of these workers and their struggle to make end meet. What I learned in addition to the struggles were the joys and fulfillment one gets from their work and this field and that we should ALL be compensated fairly for the work we do. Here’s what she had to say:

I’ve been a Home Health Aide for nearly 10 years. I am one of the millions who provide services that assist the sick with daily living activities such as personal care, grooming, meal prep and light housekeeping. We primarily serve the aging population. I’ve assisted clients from all different races, backgrounds, ethnic groups and socioeconomic groups. I enjoy helping people. The satisfaction I receive from the smiling faces of my clients is priceless. My job as an Home Health Aide is critically important, and here’s why: the aging population is living longer so Home Health Aides are in high demand. Many families aren’t able to provide for their loved ones.

When elderly people stay in their homes and in their communities, they live longer. Our number one goal is to help the aging population maintain their independence. That can only be done with an in-home care. I have had several clients with no family or friends to visit them. Most of the time, I was the only person they saw on a regular basis. Social interaction is crucial for those in the aging population. Social isolation has a negative impact on a person’s physical and emotional well being. I ensure the safety and health of my clients by preventing possible injuries inside the home by making sure there’s no tripping hazards such as rugs, furniture or clutter; that electrical appliances won’t cause a fire; assist clients during showers to prevent slips and falls; storing food, dishes and appliances so they are at waist length and easy for clients with limited mobility to get to when they are alone.

People ridicule Home Health Aides, calling us ‘professional butt-wipers’ and ‘the help,’ but what I do is lifesaving work. I play a significant part in preserving a person’s independence and that is important to me.

Without Home Health Aides many would be left without care and forced to live in long term facilities. Many families would be forced to quit their jobs or downsize so that they can care for their loved ones. In-home clients who are forced to leave long term facilities or hospitals have no care without us. More of the sick and elderly would visit emergency rooms as common hazards inside the home could cause severe injuries. I could go on and on as to why Home Health Aides are important, but I think I will end with this: Home Health Aides are a lifeline for many who are unable to care for themselves. If you value your parents, grandparents and your communities and even yourself, you’ll value us and the work that we do.

Tia M. Ivy studied Human and Social Services at Stark State College and received a Career Enhancement Certificate in Gerontology in August, 2011. She graduated from Cuyahoga Community College in May of 2016 with an Associate’s of Arts Degree. She is a single mom of 14 year old and has 10-year-old Calico cat named Samantha. 

For more information on how to make your voice heard on the Graham-Cassidy Bill and to stop the repeal of ACA (Obamacare), visit: www.action.aarp.org or call your Senator.

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