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Report Finds Home Health Care Workers Earning Poverty Wages

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

nurse, home health aide, home care (Getty)

The majority of the city's home health care aides are earning poverty or near poverty wages, according to a new report from the health care advocacy coalition Alliance for a Greater New York. The report finds 62 percent of those surveyed earn less than $25,000 a year.

Vivian Wegman, 55, is a home aide who has been living with her patient in East New York, works 24-hours a day and earns $10 an hour.

She's paid by Medicaid, which only pays for 12 hours. Her contractor, Bhrags Home Care Inc., said the other 12 are supposed to be off the clock, but Wegman said that's not realistic in home health care

 "This is like slavery," she said. "We're working and not getting paid."

She's part of the fastest growing industry in New York City, according to economists. But many advocates fear low wages are affecting the quality of care and the workers.

"The more experience you have generally, the much better job you do," said Carol Rodat, New York State Policy Director of the group PHI, which helped compile the report. "And that's why you want to be tuned in to what the wages are."

The high turnover in the city's home health care industry could be reduced with higher wages Rodat said. 

The report notes that nearly a million New Yorkers will need a home health aide in the next few decades.

"There's growing demand for health care, so now is really the time to transform the system into one that works for both care givers and people who receive care," said Maya Pinto," a senior policy analyst at ALIGN, which released the report.

Editors:

Julianne Welby

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Comments [3]

NC

Many work off the books for a significant amount of time as well, because if they show too much income on the books they will not qualify for Medicaid, food stamps, etc.

Aug. 10 2013 02:18 PM
Philip Bennett from Marine Park, Brooklyn

I should mention that I received my intensive training at Bhrags Home Care in Brooklyn so I know something of the rules.

Aug. 06 2013 05:55 PM
Philip Bennett from Marine Park, Brooklyn

Your report contains a small exaggeration. There are two types of cases for around-the-clock care. One is provided in two twelve-hour shifts. Then every hour worked is paid to the worker. The other is called 24-hour care in which one worker is paid for twelve hours plus about $20 extra for the other twelve. The justification for this is that the consumer doesn't need constant care and is independent for much of the day but still needs someone nearby to serve meals or just in case of a fall or other emergency. Yes it's exploitative, particularly in Ms. Wegman's case if she's on her feet the whole time. If that is the case then the social worker has a duty to change the case to two twelve-hour shifts.
It's a shame that PHI is doing nothing to outlaw this practice. Instead it's trying to change the Dept. of Labor regulations that will end up limiting the hours we home care workers can work and driving us deeper into poverty.

Aug. 06 2013 05:16 PM

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