Reform: Providing Home-Based Care & Support For Those in Need
My name is Lesa Davis, I’m a home care worker and I live in Baltimore County. Home care workers have a very special job because we get to make a real difference in the lives of other people. We help those who are frail or who have disabilities remain in their homes and live fuller lives while improving the quality of their lives.
Two hours each evening I take care of Eddie, a 51 year old gentleman who has a severe disability and needs assistance with eating, bathing, dressing and other activities of daily living. Eddie lives with his parents who are both in their late 80’s and experiencing their own health challenges. If it weren’t for the home care services that Eddie receives, he would have to move out of his own home, probably to a nursing home. I know there are many caring people who work in nursing homes, but I know that Eddie would not do well in that kind of setting.
Unfortunately, not all Eddies who need home care services have been able to obtain them. Here in Maryland, thousands are on lists, waiting to be served. They have not had the option of living in their own home, because there is not enough funding. I’m sure it is the same in every state and frankly, I’m certain that in every state, just like in Maryland, there are many underemployed and unemployed home care workers who would like to be put to work taking care of those who need help.
Fortunately, the Affordable Care Act is beginning to change this situation. The ACA has started making new resources available to states to expand home care services. And, as time goes on, there will be more federal resources for states that choose to establish or further expand home care services through Medicaid programs.
Here in Maryland, the State is already at work, making plans to grow its home care services in the coming year. Not only will more seniors and people with disabilities have access to services at home, but people like me will be hired to provide those services. Home care work is also a great career path for those with or without a college degree, but who want to be a health care professional.
Through my union, AFSCME, I am participating in a consultation process in order to give the State of Maryland input and advice from home care workers on how to implement Community First Choice, one of the programs established by the ACA. Because of the new funding, we are able to work with the State to help maximize the number of people served and create more home care jobs at livable wages.
The Affordable Care Act is already improving in the lives of millions of Americans who have gained insurance coverage, received more help with high prescription drug costs, obtained cancer screenings and other preventive services without a co-pay, and have gained access to health services like home care. How awful it would be if the opponents of the ACA succeeded in taking all of this away.