For Immediate Release
June 22, 2017
Contact: Dan Arel at 619-814-3337
Health care repeal would cut California’s home care program by over $400 million
New website—www.cutshurtCA.com—shares the stories of some of the 500,000 seniors and people with disabilities at risk
Senate version contains deeper Medicaid cuts than bill that passed the House
Repealing Obamacare will not only cut care for millions of Americans, but lead to devastating cuts to California’s Medicaid-funded home care program IHSS – a program utilized by half a million vulnerable and low-income seniors and people with disabilities in our state. Through the quiet elimination of the Community First Choice Option, the House version (called the AHCA) would immediately slash $400 million from IHSS and put the care of those who rely on it in jeopardy.
Senate Republican leaders released their draft of the bill today, and it features even harsher cuts to Medicaid than the House version. Republican leaders in the Senate plan to rush a vote by next week—these drastic, inhumane cuts could hit IHSS and Medicaid before the public knows what happened.
For the nearly 100,000 IHSS workers in California represented by United Domestic Workers of America (UDW/AFSCME 3930), cutting IHSS is unthinkable – so we’ve launched a new website to bring our stories forward and stop this cruel and destructive bill from becoming law. The interactive website allows users to see which California lawmakers voted for AHCA, meet the constituents who will be impacted by their vote, and easily send letters to their representatives in Congress.
“Cuts to Medicaid and IHSS would be devastating for Barbara,” says Turlock, CA care provider Lidia Rodriguez of her IHSS client who lives with MS, and whose story is featured on the site. “She told me that she would rather die than go to an institution and receive substandard care there. She is happier and healthier at home.”
In-home caregivers provide vital, cost-effective care that allows the state’s most vulnerable residents to live in their own homes with comfort and respect. Cutting or eliminating this program would lead to horrific consequences for California families, with thousands suddenly faced with insurmountable care costs, displacement and/or homelessness and, potentially, needless deaths.
Repealing health care for millions and cutting Medicaid would have a devastating impact on vulnerable Californians who rely on in-home care to survive and live with dignity. UDW members are united in fighting for the IHSS program and the clients they serve.
To read more stories of caregivers like Lidia Rodriguez or to learn about the health care repeal’s threat to California’s seniors and people with disabilities, visit www.cutshurtCA.com.
United Domestic Workers of America (UDW)/AFSCME Local 3930 is a home care union made up of nearly 100,000 in-home caregivers across the state of California. UDW caregivers provide care through the state’s In-Home Supportive Services program (IHSS), which allows over half a million California seniors and people with disabilities to stay safe and healthy at home
“I was so proud to be an American,” said Vicky Coursey, an IHSS provider and UDW member from Placer County. Vicky was one of 34 UDW caregivers who tried to attend a town hall meeting with Congressman Tom McClintock that instead became a powerful rally to protect our health care, home care, and more.
“It made me proud to say that this is what democracy is all about,” said Vicky. “If we disagree, we can speak out.”
Despite reports of possible empty seats in the town hall, most of the crowd was not allowed in. Instead, we rallied together outside while the Republican Congressman who represents several counties including Placer and El Dorado, took questions and heat on issues including his stance on the executive order on immigration and health care.
If given the chance, Vicky would have asked Rep. McClintock not to repeal the Affordable Care Act (known as the ACA or Obamacare), but instead to work on making it even better. The health care law has been particularly important in her family’s life. “I have a granddaughter who has special needs who was able to stay on her parent’s insurance longer because of the ACA,” she said. “I was so grateful.”
Changes, cuts, or repeal of the ACA would have a devastating impact on the estimated 75,000 UDW caregivers, as well as 26,900 of Congressman McClintock’s own constituents who have free or lower cost health insurance because of it. Despite this, Rep. McClintock says Obamacare should be replaced even though a replacement plan that improves and expands access to health care has not yet been agreed upon.
UDW caregiver Adam Green said he wanted to ask Congressman McClintock how he would keep a promise he made to take care of veterans and help the new President do the same. Adam, a U.S. veteran himself, provides IHSS care for a fellow vet, and is worried about what could happen if Obamacare goes away. “I’m a disabled veteran,” explained Adam. “The care I don’t get through the VA, I rely on from the civilian side.”
UDW caregivers from Merced and Stanislaus counties travelled over 150 miles to stand side-by-side with fellow caregivers in Placer and El Dorado counties. Lidia Rodriguez from Merced County has diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis, and said she is thankful to have access to affordable health insurance because of the ACA. “I need my insurance,” she said, “but even if I wasn’t impacted, I would have still gone to stand with my UDW sisters and brothers, as well as the elderly and disabled – our clients.”
Richard Gold from Placer County was one of the only UDW members who was able to get inside the meeting. He said he got in line for the 10am town hall at 7am because he wanted to hear what the Congressman had to say. “I want this to be a better country and better place for everybody,” said Richard. “I’ve never been to a town hall, but I went because I care. I care about our country. I care about people. IHSS is at stake, and that means my livelihood—and my client’s care—is at stake.”
Town halls with our elected leaders and other opportunities to stand up for and protect our health care are happening in counties throughout the state. Contact your local UDW office to find out how you can get involved.
In 2016, UDW caregivers played a pivotal role in making much needed improvements to the IHSS payroll system.
With the timesheet audit victory under our belts, we continued to speak up and tell our late timesheet and paycheck stories throughout the year. The state heard us, and announced it would finally offer an electronic timesheet option in 2017. Last December, small groups of IHSS providers were able to try out the state’s electronic timesheet prototype, and offer our opinions.
Overall, we are excited about the improvement, and believe it will help reduce the time providers currently spend waiting for our paychecks. A pilot of the optional electronic timesheets will be rolled out in two counties in May 2017, and then to the rest of the state in July.
And while electronic timesheets will be a great option for thousands of caregivers, we know that not all IHSS providers or recipients will want to use them. That’s why we must continue our work to fix the paper timesheet system, too.
At a Senate Committee on Human Services hearing in Los Angeles last November, we held the Department of Social Services accountable for their role in paycheck delays – delays that have forced our families to go without for holidays, or worse, led to providers being evicted from their homes. Lawmakers were appalled, and pledged to help us fix the system in 2017.
We all deserve a payroll system that works, and a paycheck we can depend on for the hard work we do. Have a late paycheck story to share with lawmakers? Take our survey at bit.ly/IHSSpay.
Which lawmakers stood up for seniors, people with disabilities, working families, and California’s in-home caregivers?
Every year, UDW scores the California legislature and the governor on their support of policies that impact homecare recipients and care providers. This year, we’ve added the overall career scores of our elected leaders to acknowledge those who have consistently supported providers and our IHSS clients. Find out how the governor and your lawmakers scored by clicking on the booklet below.
April 4, 2016
Today, we took a big step forward in our fight for justice for home care workers and families. Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 3 (SB 3), which creates a plan to raise California’s minimum wage incrementally to $15 by 2022, and provides all workers with paid sick days.
“We must bring balance to an unbalanced system,” said the governor minutes before he signed the bill.
For home care providers, including UDW’s 92,000 IHSS workers, this new law will have a monumental impact. Currently, we make on average just $10.71 an hour, and work without any paid sick time. Many of us struggle to provide for our families and often work even when we’re sick, because we can’t afford an unpaid day off.
“It’s tough for me to afford groceries, my prescriptions, and even gas for my car to drive to each of my clients,” said El Dorado home care worker Lisa Scott. “I’ve done this job for over a decade, and I’ve never taken a paid sick day.”
Today’s victory is a direct result of providers like Lisa and UDW caregivers across the state joining with other underpaid workers to demand more for ourselves and our families.
A few years back, UDW members stood alongside fast food workers, adjunct professors, retail workers, and more in the Fight for $15. We raised our voices in marches and rallies from San Diego to the Capitol. “All home care workers need to fight for $15, because we deserve better,” said UDW member Gabriel Paramo from San Diego.
And our elected leaders heard us. Late last month, our constant demands for justice caused the governor and legislators to work with unions to come up with a plan to raise millions of working families out of poverty by raising the minimum wage.
When that plan was voted on by the state Senate and Assembly last week, UDW members were there to make sure it passed. “No one who works full time should live in poverty,” said Stanislaus County UDW member Lidia Rodriguez just before the Assembly passed SB 3, and moved it on to the Senate.
When the bill finally passed the Senate and made its way to the governor’s desk, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon told naysayers, “Anyone who thinks $15 an hour is way too much should try living on it.”
All of our hard work culminated in a celebration today in Los Angeles, when Governor Brown, surrounded by UDW home care providers and other workers, signed this landmark legislation.
“We didn’t sit back and wait,” said Riverside County IHSS provider Kady Crick. “We fought for this! And now we’re seeing the fruits of our hard work.”
The new law will raise California’s minimum wage to $10.50 an hour on January 1, 2017, and then to $11 an hour on January 1, 2018. After that, the minimum wage will increase by $1 every year until it reaches $15. Once it reaches $15, it will be raised annually with increases in inflation. The minimum wage is expected to reach $15 by 2022, if there are no pauses triggered by a slow economy or a budget deficit.
It is estimated that nearly six million workers in California, or over one-third of the workforce will receive a raise – including thousands of UDW members.
Under the new law, IHSS workers will receive one paid sick day starting July 2018, with three paid sick days to be implemented by 2022.
Although we celebrate this amazing achievement by workers, our work is not done yet. The work we do for seniors and people with disabilities deserves more than minimum wage. That’s why UDW caregivers will continue to bargain at both the county and state level for better wages and benefits NOW.
Contact your local UDW office to learn how you can join our fight for justice – http://www.udwa.org/contact.