Making our Voices Heard for COVID-19 Support

March 18, 2020

Our state policy recommendations reflect the experiences of members working every day during this crisis to care for our patients, residents and clients in home care, nursing homes and acute care settings as well as on-going conversations with our employer providers.

We stand ready to work together to help healthcare workers and the residents they serve navigate through these challenging times. To add your voice to these important advocacy issues call you state legislator, (617) 722-2000

To that end, the following priorities need timely and swift action: 

Continued Financial Support for Vulnerable Providers 

  1. Work with MassHealth providers to prioritize utilization of Medicaid dollars, including federal matching dollars received under federal COVID-19 response legislation; 

  2. Ensure all vulnerable providers have access to financial support to sustain operations and needed capacity; 

  3. Ensure these flexible dollars meet the need resulting from worker exposure, associated increased labor costs, and a steep reduction in the provision of non-essential services in acute care settings. 

Personal Protective Equipment and Support for Frontline Healthcare Workers 

  1. Ensure priority access of PPE for frontline healthcare workers, including home care workers caring for some of our most vulnerable, isolated residents. The state should pursue all potential options to rapidly expand access to the entire healthcare workforce. Proper PPE not only helps protect the spread of infections, but also helps critically needed healthcare workers remain at work with increased security for their own health; 

  2. Expand access to sick time for workers who were not covered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to ensure workers stay home when sick and to alleviate the growing strain on the unemployment insurance system. 

Workforce Redeployment and Training 

  1. The Administration’s 1135 CMS waiver request for flexibility in response to coronavirus contained many important elements to enable decisive action, including on licensure, certification and training requirements that will help quickly expand the healthcare workforce. As a union committed to workforce development and career ladders, we are generally supportive of these emergency measures; 

  2. With respect to the CMS waiver flexibilities and any other adjustments to worker and workplace standards that health care employers are implementing during the COVID-19 state of emergency, we urge the state to ensure ongoing oversight over healthcare providers as these processes are implemented. Going forward and especially when the state of emergency is lifted, it will be very important to ensure that many of the important worker and healthcare provider employer standards waived during the crisis are re-evaluated and in many cases reinstated; 

  3. Support existing initiatives that promote career ladders within the healthcare spectrum to expand the workforce at this critical time and to provide specialty training to workers needing to be redeployed into temporary new roles. 

Supplemental Childcare Funding for Frontline Healthcare Workers 

  1. Create an emergency, supplemental childcare fund for income-eligible frontline workers. Healthcare workers, especially low-wage home care and nursing home workers, need additional financial support to help shoulder the burden of unforeseen childcare costs and be able to access in-home care options; 

  2. Administrative action through the Department of Early Education and Care to license emergency, back-up providers is a helpful and needed step. We encourage continued evaluation of options to build additional capacity through additional emergency licensure. 

If you have questions, please contact our Political Action department at 877.409.1199.