For Immediate Release: Thursday, April 9, 2015 // Contact: Thomas Earle, 215-634-2000 or Jim McNeill, 202-213-1614
Coalition of Home Care Providers, Disability Rights Advocates, Consumers and Attendants Supporting Initiative That Strengthens Care in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvanians for Dignity in Home Care backing state’s initiative to ensure affordable, high-quality home care for seniors and people with disabilities
With PA’s senior population growing by nearly 1 million over next 20 years, initiative expands home care that people prefer and is more cost-effective than institutional care
HARRISBURG — A growing coalition of home care providers, consumers and attendants is supporting the state’s initiative to ensure affordable, high-quality care for Pennsylvania’s seniors and people with disabilities.
In late February, Governor Tom Wolf unveiled a package of legislative, budgetary and executive actions to meet the rapidly expanding need for Home and Community-Based services in the Commonwealth. Over the next 20 years, the senior population of Pennsylvania will grow by nearly 1 million.
“The Governor’s initiative will allow our state to provide cost-effective care to the growing number of Pennsylvanians with disabilities who want to live longer with dignity at home,” said Thomas Earle, CEO of Liberty Resources, a non-profit, consumer-controlled organization that promotes independent living for all persons with disabilities. Liberty Resources is also a partner in Pennsylvanians for Dignity in Home Care, the coalition that is supporting the state’s home care initiative.
Over the next year, the initiative will enable 5,500 additional Pennsylvanians to obtain care in their home, according to figures released by Commonwealth officials. That expansion will lead to significant savings for Pennsylvania taxpayers. For every month a resident receives care in the community as opposed to a nursing facility, the state is able to save more than $2,400. In expanding HCBS services to more than 5,500 residents, Pennsylvania is offsetting more than $160 million in unnecessary nursing care costs.
But the state’s ability to expand cost-effective home care services is in jeopardy. Currently, individuals are discouraged from becoming home care attendants because of low pay, lack of healthcare and limited, if any, training and support. And turnover rates for caregivers are estimated to be as high as 75 percent a year — likely due to the fact that pay for home care attendants in Pennsylvania is as much as 65 percent below what it costs to support a family.
To address this shortage in the workforce, Governor Wolf issued an Executive Order, which establishes a stronger voice for both home care consumers, and attendants to advocate for improvements in the Commonwealth’s home care system. “The order is for people who are delivering care in isolated homes…to give them an ability to communicate with each other and learn from each other,” Wolf said. It does not make attendants state employees, nor does it establish collective bargaining for attendants, as opponents have wrongly claimed.
“The opponents of this initiative need to stop filing baseless lawsuits and start working together to effectively meet the growing care needs our seniors and people with disabilities deserve so they can live independently in their communities with family, friends and loved ones,” said Earle of Liberty Resources.
Pennsylvanians for Dignity in Home Care is a coalition of home care providers, disability rights advocates, consumers and attendants standing together for expanded and improved home- and community-based services. It includes home care providers such as Liberty Resources in Philadelphia, the Center for Independent Living of Central Pennsylvania, Voices for Independence in Erie and TRIPIL Services in Washington, Pa., as well as the United Home Care Workers of Pennsylvania, a joint AFSCME and SEIU union of attendants.