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Biden Is Right. Pay for Home Health Workers Is Paltry.

Stephanie Stapleton

In a speech this month, former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, provided the third installment of a four-part financial plan being rolled out prematurely of the Democratic National Convention in August. This set of proposals centered on caregivers — whether or not for kids, older adults or individuals with disabilities — and is about “easing the squeeze on working families who are raising their kids and caring for aging loved ones at the same time,” Biden stated.

His marketing campaign’s sweeping set of initiatives, which symbolize a $775 billion expenditure in a wide range of applications, goals to get important traction amongst middle-class voters, whose struggles with caregiving points have been exacerbated through the coronavirus pandemic.

When it got here to house well being employees, Biden zeroed in on their paychecks. “They’re doing God’s work,” he stated. “But home health workers aren’t paid much, they have few benefits. Forty percent are still on SNAP or Medicaid. So my plan is direct. It gives caregivers and early childhood educators a much-needed raise.”

That 40% is a placing quantity.

After all, there are an estimated three.three million house well being and private care aides within the United States, in line with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These employees present a spread of each day residing providers to tens of millions of older Americans and folks with disabilities, power sickness or cognitive impairment — making them an vital a part of the well being care continuum. As child boomers age, demand for house well being employees is predicted to extend quickly. And, as a result of Biden put a highlight on the function caregivers might have in boosting the economic system, we determined to research additional.

We contacted the Biden marketing campaign to seek out out the supply for the 40% statistic. A spokesperson pointed us to info from PHI National’s Workforce Data Center. PHI is a New York-based advocacy group that research the direct-care workforce and is often cited as a supply on this matter.

The group indicated that in 2017 42% of direct care employees, a class composed of non-public care aides, house well being aides and nursing assistants, acquired some type of public help — outlined by PHI as meals and vitamin help, public medical insurance or money help. An additional breakdown of this broad job class confirmed that 53% of house care employees acquired public help, with 30% having acquired meals and vitamin help and 33% Medicaid insurance coverage protection.

Based on these figures, Robert Espinoza, PHI’s vp of coverage, stated Biden was definitely within the ballpark.

More Numbers, and Some Context

But there’s extra.

The two applications Biden talked about by identify — SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, and Medicaid, the state-federal medical insurance program for low-income individuals — peg eligibility to earnings limits at or close to the federal poverty degree, which for a person is $12,760. Those eligibility limits fluctuate by program and state.

Medicaid  for adults is dependent upon the place they stay, and ranges from 138% of poverty in states that selected to develop this system beneath the Affordable Care Act to a median of 40% of poverty in these states that didn’t. For SNAP, these limits are set at 130% p.c of the poverty degree for gross month-to-month earnings and 100% for web month-to-month earnings. For a person, that’s $1,354 and $1,041, respectively.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for house well being employees is about $24,060 per yr, and a 2019 report by PHI concluded that 47% of house well being employees have incomes at or under 138% of the poverty degree. These numbers additional again up Biden’s assertion concerning the variety of house well being employees on Medicaid or SNAP. If something, they counsel his 40% determine could also be a lowball estimate.

And yet one more little bit of proof that Biden was heading in the right direction: The National Employment Law Project famous that many of those employees “supplement their home care work with other jobs to make ends meet.” That PHI report asserted that half of house care employees have solely a highschool training and sometimes work half time or inconsistent schedules. These jobs are additionally marked by excessive turnover charges.

Our Ruling

Biden stated house well being employees had been paid little or no, citing a statistic that 40% of those employees relied on public help applications like SNAP and Medicaid as proof.

According to the specialists with whom we spoke, and the paperwork we consulted, Biden precisely described house well being employees’ earnings and their reliance on these applications. His quantity seems to symbolize the low finish of the spectrum.

We fee this assertion True.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nationwide well being coverage information service. It is an editorially unbiased program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which isn’t affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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