April 2012

Thousands Gather in Montobello for Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day

SEIU ULTCW President, Laphonza Butler

April 24th, 2012 was the 97th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and thousands of Armenian-Americans, as well as, friends and supporters gathered at the Armenian Genocide Monument, in Montobello, California. Speakers included elected officials, scholars and professionals who all spoke to the tragic slaughter of over 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

The keynote speaker was Israel Charny, the executive director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide. The event also included a religious service led by all denominations of the Armenian community, a flag ceremony performed by the Homenetmen and the Armenian General Benevolent Union scouts and the placement of wreaths by various organizations.

ULTCW represents over 16,000 Armenian-American long-term caregivers throughout the state of California; many of who attended ceremonies and marches on this day.

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Caring for daughter is full-time job for this mother

The Los Angeles based publication, the Wave, recently went to a ULTCW member, Cynthia Villareal’s, home to discuss what being a caregiver really means. An excerpt from the article is below:

Cynthia and her daughter, Elizabeth, at their Whittier home.


WHITTIER — Cynthia Villarreal follows the daily routine of many mothers — up about 6:30 a.m. to bath, dress and feed her daughter and see that her needs are taken care of for the day. But a big difference is that Elizabeth Villarreal is 21, is mentally disabled and has autism.

“She has the mind of a 2-year-old,” said Cynthia Villarreal, who has been a full-time caregiver to her daughter for more than 20 years.

Her daughter attends a day care program until 2:30 p.m. weekdays at Sierra High School in the Whittier Union High School District. Upon her arrival home, it’s time for cleanup and dinner and an evening of watching TV.
“She demands attention all the time,” Villarreal noted.

Read the whole article at: http://wavenewspapers.com/news/local/east_edition/article_e05053d8-8fd5-11e1-8cc4-001a4bcf6878.html

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Coordinated Care Key To Saving Health Care For Seniors

In a recent article by Gary Passmore, vice president of the Congress of California Seniors, he outlines the problem with the current IHSS system and the solution currently being proposed through the Let’s Get Healthy at Home legislation. Mr. Passmore also explains why the Congress of California Seniors is standing behind this legislation.

That’s why the Congress of California Seniors has joined with Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and representatives of In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) consumers and providers from across the state to strengthen the role home care plays in the health care experience for seniors and people with disabilities. Our plan keeps seniors and people with disabilities healthier, protects their independence and drives down costs.

California’s low-income seniors and people with disabilities rely on a fragmented system of medical care and long-term care services. These systems don’t talk to each other, much less work together to support our goals of living healthy at home.

Further, the current system is not structured to prioritize quality health outcomes. Since Medicare and Medi-Cal payments to medical providers are based on specific services performed in doctors’ offices and hospitals, providers do not have an incentive to keep patients healthy at home rather than in an expensive hospital or nursing home. Given the growing population of seniors and stark budget realities, a system with this kind of built-in bias is not sustainable.

California’s low-income seniors need an integrated system that shifts financial incentives in favor of long-term care that is focused on prevention and wellness, so we stay healthier and require fewer costly medical interventions and reduced hospital and nursing home stays. As the population of IHSS recipients is expected to double over the next 10 years to more than 800,000, we can confront these choices now or wait to have them forced upon us.

Read the whole article at: http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/site/coordinated-care-key-saving-health-care-seniors

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2011: Nursing Home News

2011 was a challenging year as over 90 percent of SEIU ULTCW’s Nursing Home members began contract negotiations. In today’s tough economy we faced uphill battles against our employers’ efforts to cut benefits and rollback many of the gains won in previous agreements. Employers tried to play hardball at the bargaining table but ULTCW members stayed united and took action by picketing, moving petitions, and organizing delegations and sticker-ups.

Thanks to the pressure our actions generated, employers were forced back to the table and drop many of their proposed cuts. The year ended with new contracts at Country Villa, Longwood, Skilled, Kindred and many other independent facilities. With 27 contracts ratified, ULTCW’s Nursing Home members are ready to continue to fight to win 30 more contracts in 2012.

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Arminda Sanchez shares her story in Sacramento

On April 25th, in-home caregivers and their consumers went to the State capital to testify on the need for a better In-home Supportive Services (IHSS) system in California. A few of our own ULTCW members were able to share their stories with the Senate Healthcare sub-committee, where the bill currently resides.

Wednesday’s testimonies are a part of our effort to pass the Let’s Get Healthy at Home legislation that will create a future for long-term care in California. The bill is in its early stages but as ULTCW Member, Arminda Sanchez, stated,

“I went to Sacramento today to put a face to the legislation. My daughter, Margarita Sanchez suffers from epilepsy and mental retardation and without me by her side she wouldn’t be able to continue living at home. I am her primary source of care and I wanted legislators to understand that.”

One of the key elements in the new bill is giving California in-home care providers direct access to the doctors and specialists that their clients see; making in-home care providers a part of a consumer’s total healthcare team. Doing this ensures better safety with medication distribution and more communication on the overall improvements, or deterioration, in the consumer’s health. The Let’s Get Healthy at Home bill is expected to be considered by the State Legislature on June 30th of this year.

The legislation also calls for a permanent solution to funding the IHSS program throughout the state. This bill will be a huge win for so many of our state’s elderly and disabled residents who rely on in-home services to stay healthy and live independently at home. The in-home supportive services program already saves the state money by keeping people out of more expensive nursing and convalescent homes.

With California’s aging population, set to double over the next 10 years, it is even more important that legislation that protects our elders is passed today. Together we can win a future for long-term care in California.

Add your name to our online pledge so that we can continue to put pressure on legislators to support our families, friends and communities by supporting this bill.

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Let’s Get Healthy at Home Button

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Your Voice, Our Choice: 2012 Voting Guide

2012 is an important year for all of us.

Use the below links to get information on voting and to find out who your elected leaders are. Use our 2012 Voting Guide to inform yourself on important issues and learn about our statewide ULTCW endorsed candidates.

Deadlines:

  • Oct. 22nd:  Deadline To Register To Vote

Voter Hotlines: Information on where to get voter registration information; your polling place, etc.

(800) 345-VOTE (8683) – English

(800) 232-VOTA (8682) – español / Spanish

(800) 339-2857 – 中文 / Chinese

Voting is Easy!

All links are courtesy of the office of the Secretary of State.

1. To Register to Vote – CLICK HERE.

2. Already a registered voter? Make it easy on yourself and Vote by Mail!CLICK HERE.

3. Don’t remember if you’re registered to vote? CLICK HERE and find out!

Use the below links to find out who YOUR representatives are!

Assembly and State Senators:

Click on THIS LINK to find out who your assembly member and state senator is. This link is a direct map link courtesy of the California State Assembly.

Members of Congress:

Click on THIS LINK to find out who your Congress member is. This link is a direct link courtesy of the United States House of Representatives.

U.S Senate:

Click on THIS LINK to find out who California’s US Senators are. This links is a direct link courtesy of the United States Senate.

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Hidden in Plain Sight: California’s Paid Medi-Cal Caregivers Are Vulnerable

UCLA study finds that most lack access to health insurance, adequate food

The demand for caregivers is growing rapidly as California’s population ages, but the majority of the state’s Medi-Cal caregivers earn poverty or near-poverty wages and have poor access to health care and food, a new study from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research has found.

Fifty-seven percent of paid Medi-Cal caregivers — and almost half of all 450,000 paid caregivers in the state — have incomes that leave them in poverty or near poverty, according to the study, “Hidden in Plain Sight: California’s Paid Medi-Cal Caregivers Are Vulnerable.” Medi-Cal is the state’s public health insurance program for low-income seniors or adults with long-term illness or disabilities.

“Paid caregivers do a lot but get paid very little,” said Geoffrey Hoffman, the study’s lead author. “They play a critical and complex role caring for our aging or disabled parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors yet can earn only a little more than minimum wage.”

With recent state budget cuts, the situation for caregivers is already more precarious, and it could worsen now that the state’s Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) program has transitioned into a different program and further cuts are made to In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), Hoffman noted.

The study is based on the 2009 California Health Interview Survey, which is administered by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and is the nation’s largest state health survey.

An estimated 6 million caregivers in California provide much-needed services for a family member, friend or other individual with a long-term illness or disability. Of these caregivers, about 450,000 are paid for the services they provide, and two-thirds of them — approximately 290,000 — are paid Medi-Cal caregivers.

The study found:

Paid Medi-Cal caregivers earn the least
The average monthly income for paid Medi-Cal caregivers was $1,970, compared with $4,222 for caregivers who were not paid for the assistance they provided.

Average wage for paid caregivers is low
Paid Medi-Cal caregivers reported providing an average of 43 hours of care per week, which, at an approximate monthly income of $1,970, translates to a little more than $11 per hour. In contrast, the median hourly wage in the state in 2010 was $18.13.

Many paid caregivers can’t afford basic necessities
Paid Medi-Cal caregivers who earned less than $21,660 a year (which is below 200 percent of the federal poverty level) had rates of food insecurity that were twice those of low-income unpaid caregivers. Food insecurity refers to reducing meal sizes or skipping meals due to a lack of sufficient resources to buy food.

Paid caregiver turnover is high
Among paid Medi-Cal caregivers, nearly 16 percent were at their current job for less than one year and only about 18 percent had been at their job for more than 10 years. (Close to one-third of both unpaid caregivers and employed non-caregivers reported being at the same job for more than 10 years.)

Paid caregivers more likely to be uninsured
Paid Medi-Cal caregivers were almost twice as likely as non-caregiving adults to be currently uninsured (31 percent vs. 18 percent).

“When we talk about caregiving, we should be thinking not only of the supportive services we provide to older adults but also the vulnerable people providing those services,” Hoffman said.

The downsizing of the Adult Day Health Care program, which started on April 1, when the state transitioned to the new Community-Based Adult Services (CBAS) program, and a proposed 20 percent cut to In-Home Supportive Services workers’ hours, which is currently blocked by a federal court, could have a devastating impact on seniors and people with disabilities, Hoffman noted.

Adult Day Health Care offers social, health and therapeutic services to frail older adults to help them remain independent in the community; In-Home Supportive Services helps older low-income adults and people with disabilities pay for services such as cleaning, cooking, running errands, help taking their medicines and other tasks.

“Cuts to state programs for seniors will come at the expense of California’s seniors, but they will also harm paid caregivers,” Hoffman said. “What is needed is more support for these economically vulnerable Californians so that they can take better care both of older care recipients and themselves.”

The Service Employees International Union supported this analysis.

Read or download the full report: “Hidden in Plain Sight: California’s Paid Medi-Cal Caregivers Are Vulnerable.”

This article was originally posted at http://www.healthpolicy.ucla.edu/NewsReleaseDetails.aspx?id=105

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We Deserve the Same Level of Care That We Are Providing

Our own member, Jaime Reyna, had the the opportunity to highlight some of the downfalls in the current health insurance coverage offered to LA county caregivers. Access to quality healthcare is one of our top priorities as we continue to negotiate for a better contract for home care workers in Los Angeles. Read the excerpt below:

Is waiting eight months to see your doctor a good healthcare plan? I don’t think it is. Yet, for me and many other in-home healthcare providers, that’s often how long we have to wait before we get to see a doctor. As an in-home healthcare worker, I have a health plan provided by the County of Los Angeles. Sadly, this healthcare plan does not reflect the growing healthcare needs of its recipients.

In 2009, I was diagnosed with diabetes. Since then, caring for my health has been a struggle. This past January, I called my clinic to make an appointment for my six-month check up. I was told the next appointment available would be in August, a full eight months later. As a diabetic, this worried me. What if I am doing something wrong? What if my vision is impaired? What if my sugar levels are wrong?

Read the whole article at: http://egpnews.com/2012/04/we-deserve-the-same-level-of-care-that-we-are-providing/

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Home Care Workers to Sacramento: Let’s Get Healthy!

SEIU ULTCW member, Cynthia Villareal, wrote a guest feature for the online news source, The Frying Pan, on the need for a better IHSS system in California and a living wage for home care workers in Los Angeles. In the article she highlights the hardship of caregivers as well as problems with the current system that leave those in need without the care they deserve. Read an excerpt below:

I am an in-home caregiver for my daughter Elizabeth, who suffers a mental disability. She is 21 years old, has autism and needs fulltime supervision. Any parent who has an autistic child understands the unique challenges we must deal with on a daily basis — such as my daughter needing to go to a special school, having to work with social workers who check in on her, juggling multiple doctors and administering her different medications throughout the day.

I am writing this article because I know my daughter deserves the very best care. Not only am I fighting for a living wage in L.A. County, but for vital changes to the IHSS program that would improve quality care and protect this lifeline service from future cuts.

That’s why, along with other union locals, mine is putting together a state-wide solution — a system that will stabilize long-term care for in-home care providers and create better health outcomes for elderly and disabled consumers. In fact, our changes to the current IHSS program will create a more efficient home care system, help reduce and manage chronic diseases, and provide stable funding to meet the rapid growth of California’s “silver-tsunami” of baby boomers, as well as disabled children and adults.

Together, we are fighting to ensure that California’s IHSS program is one that puts consumers first and raises standards by completing the circle of care – to one that includes doctors, social workers, specialists and in-home care providers. As a mother, this is the future I envision for my Elizabeth, but this movement isn’t about me or any single person—it’s about standing up for all the vulnerable residents in our families and in our communities. Stand with me and add your voice to this movement now as we take this conversation from our homes to Sacramento.

Add Your Voice to this movement HERE and read the whole article at: http://fryingpannews.org/2012/03/28/home-care-workers-to-sacramento-let%E2%80%99s-get-healthy/

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