By Astrid Zuniga, UDW Vice President
I am a mother of five, grandmother of eight, and proud IHSS home care provider for my son Manuel, who lives with autism and intellectual disabilities.
Like any provider who cares for a person with severe autism and other kinds of cognitive disabilities, I am worried about what happens if Manuel wanders or gets lost and comes across a police officer. Did you know that half of people killed by police are people with disabilities?
Manuel is nonverbal, aggressive, and has no fear of strangers or other kinds of danger. I worry about what could happen if he encounters a police officer or other first responder who doesn’t know how to deescalate situations with people like him. I worry that if Manuel is violent, or if he doesn’t follow orders, that the police may decide it’s necessary to use force against him.
Our clients and loved ones need our help. In 2017 our union UDW is sponsoring legislation – AB 437 – which would create a system so that people with disabilities and seniors can voluntarily provide vital information about themselves to first responders in their communities. The information they provide will help law enforcement know how to interact with people like Manuel. It will help first responders to react appropriately to our clients’ behavior and deescalate interactions so that no one is put in harm’s way. You can read the bill here.
Will you help me? I am asking my fellow UDW providers to join me to help pass AB 437. Do you have a client who is prone to wander? Or who has special needs when interacting with first responders? Fill out this survey to get involved today!
With a new president in office and a new administration at work, changes are coming that will affect IHSS providers, our clients, our families, and our communities.
This year, UDW caregivers face challenges in Sacramento and Washington D.C. Protecting health care and home care, our children, our paychecks, and keeping people with disabilities safe are all top priorities for our union.
Here’s a closer look at our legislative priorities in 2017:
Protecting—not repealing—our health care
Tens of thousands of IHSS providers get our health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (also called ACA or Obamacare). As Congress works to roll back and dismantle the ACA, UDW stands firm in our commitment that the access, affordability, and quality of our health care should be improved, not cut.
Protecting the IHSS program
Like Obamcare, Medicaid is also on the chopping block. Not only does 60% of Medicaid spending go to seniors and people with disabilities, it also provides an estimated 54% of the funding for the IHSS program. The administration’s plan to change Medicaid from a federal entitlement to a block grant program will have a negative impact on our home care clients because it will mean less federal funding for IHSS. UDW is committed to protecting home care by working to protect Medicaid.
Keeping our clients safe
In the past few years, we’ve sponsored legislation with the goal of keeping people with developmental and intellectual disabilities safer in our communities. This year, we will build upon that work by sponsoring a bill that seeks to improve the state’s emergency response systems by giving first responders – law enforcement, firefighters, and EMTs – information that will help prevent negative interactions with people in their communities with mental impairments and developmental disabilities.
Improving the IHSS payroll system
Last year, we urged the Legislature to address problems with the IHSS payroll system that cause all too frequent paycheck delays. We succeeded in winning a statewide audit of the current system. The results of the audit are expected in March, and UDW will use the audit’s findings to sponsor legislation to finally fix the payroll system, and ensure providers are paid in a timely manner.
Improving California’s child care system
Family child care providers run daycares in their home where they provide care and early education for many of our children while we work. Unfortunately, like IHSS providers, family child care providers often experience paycheck issues and delays. UDW is working with family child care providers to urge the state to make changes that will ensure providers are paid faster and are notified when there are changes in family eligibility.
Want to help? Click here to call your local office to see how you can get involved in these fights and more!
Call 1-866-584-5792, and tell your Congressional Representative to vote to protect the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid
President-elect Trump and Congressional leadership have committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act (known as the ACA or Obamacare) as soon as January 2017. House Speaker Paul Ryan has argued for years in favor of cutting vital programs like Medicaid (known in California as MediCal). And just this month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said repealing the ACA would be “the first item up in the new year.”
That means the health coverage our families rely on is on the chopping block and under attack. And Medicaid could be next.
This is urgent!
We’ve fought hard to secure health care our families can afford, and as home care providers, our top priority is always the health and safety of our clients. The incoming administration and Congress are looking to unravel decades of our hard work.
MediCal’s eligibility requirements were expanded to give more Californians access to health insurance because of the ACA. In fact, an estimated 47,000 UDW home care workers are now eligible for MediCal. And 28,000 additional UDW members qualify for health care subsidies through Covered California, another ACA program. All in all, repealing the ACA will cut the health care coverage of tens of thousands of UDW caregivers and our families, as well as more than 20 million Americans nationwide.
We cannot let this happen, and we cannot allow disruptions in our IHSS clients’ care.
Medicaid provides 55% of the funding for the IHSS program. That means changes to Medicaid could cause cuts to the number of home care hours our IHSS clients receive, put unfair limits on care, and negatively impact our ability to care for our home care clients.
Our clients and families can’t afford for us to wait and see what happens to these vital programs. We have to take action NOW.
Call 1-866-584-5792, and tell your Congressional Representative to stand up for seniors, people with disabilities and working families by voting to protect the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid.