Home Care Workers Launch Petition for Better Pay
From bathing and cooking to eating, dressing and getting to doctor's appointments, many disabled and elderly Missourians receive care in their own homes, but those who provide it say low wages are making it difficult to make ends meet.
Julia May has been a home care worker for nearly 15 years, but still earns less than $9 per hour. She says while she loves what she does, she doesn't know how much longer she can afford it.
"I can't afford to get myself health insurance," she states. "I can't afford car insurance. I can barely afford to buy groceries and cleaning supplies for my home."
Right now, the state pays vendors in Missouri's Consumer Directed Services program more than $15 for every hour of service provided, but home care workers receive, on average, about half of that.
The Missouri Home Care Union has launched a petition drive to require that service providers pay home care workers at least 85 percent of the fees the providers receive from the state.
May says she doesn't feel like she, and the other roughly 9,000 home care workers in the state, are asking for anything they haven't earned.
"What I know is, we do 85 percent of the work every day, and we have not received anywhere near 85 percent of the taxpayers' dollars the companies get for home care," she points out.
In order to put the issue on the November 2016 ballot, the group must gather more than 100,000 valid signatures by May.
A contract that would allow consumers to determine how much they would like to pay their home care attendants has been on Gov. Jay Nixon's desk since January.
Contributed by Mona Shand