1199SEIU Executive Vice President Tim Foley Statement on Gov. Baker’s Fiscal Year 2021 Budget

October 15, 2020

“As we continue to examine the budget and the funding levels for the entire healthcare system and essential caregivers, we applaud the enormous strides in worker protection, pay and oversight with the Nursing Facility Accountability and Support Program made by the Baker Administration. Now we  hope the administration can take the same steps to protect the health and safety of the vital frontline workers in the Home Care industry who have been instrumental in the fight against COVID-19 and are far too often overlooked. 

The Administration this month took necessary steps reforming the nursing home industry that strengthen staffing and increase the direct care workforce, ensure safe conditions during the pandemic, provide targeted COVID-19 funding, restructure rates and improve standards of care while adding badly needed oversight and monitoring measures. But Home Care workers who are on the front lines of the pandemic every day and have put their lives at risk to care for others are not receiving the same level of protection, pay or oversight. As the budget moves forward, advocates for worker and patient safety need to provide protections for Home Care workers similar to those in legislation filed by Sen. James Welch and Rep. Daniel Cullinane. That legislation would finally create a badly-needed licensure process for state home care agencies, establish standards for proper care, set minimum average employee compensation, raise the rates paid to licensed agencies and provide transparent financial reports to the state annually. 

Currently, there a no protections for workers who too often are confronted with a lack of Personal Protective Equipment, unsafe conditions and no employer support. Far too often unregulated home care agencies underpay workers or simply do not pay their workers at all. 

The state has taken the right steps to aid workers in the hard-hit nursing home industry. Now – in this budget or with the thoughtful legislation filed by Welch and Cullinane – the state needs to do the same for Home Care workers.”